Warriors’ season may come down to when Kevin Durant returns; Stephen Curry once again becomes No. 1 offensive option; late-game execution remains a concern

It’s all about the loss of Kevin Durant right now if you’re a Warriors fan — and the questions that come out of it.

How long exactly will Durant be out? Can the Warriors hold off the Spurs for the best record in the Western Conference and home-court advantage throughout the postseason? How much will Stephen Curry have to change his game from now until Durant returns? How many minutes can newly acquired Matt Barnes gobble up? Will Durant be the same player after he comes back?

The bottom line is that the Warriors’ season has changed in a big way, and it’s because Durant suffered at Grade 2 MCL sprain and tibial bone bruise in his left knee against the Wizards on Monday.

The Warriors have gone from the prohibitive favorite to … well, let’s wait and see.

On the “NBA This Week” we talked all aspects of the Warriors, and other NBA topics with Celtics analyst and former NBA assistant coach Brian Scalabrine and the Washington Post’s Tim Bontemps.

Link to Hour 1 of the “NBA This Week,” with Scalabrine interview.

Link to Hour 2 of the “NBA This Week,” with Bontemps interview.

Durant will be out for at least four weeks, at which time he’ll be re-evaluated. The hope is at that time Durant will be able to start working out and getting ready to play. That scenario would have him back for the last few games of the regular season.

But if in four weeks they don’t like what they see, perhaps Durant will need another week or two of inactivity. If that’s the case, we’re looking at Durant re-joining the Warriors in the first or second round of the playoffs. Is that too late? What kind of player is he going to be at that point?

The Warriors might be fine, but with all the uncertainty about Durant, they might not be fine. One thing is for sure, that wasn’t a championship team that lost to the Bulls on Thursday night 94-87. That was a season-low in points for Golden State.

One of the Warriors’ old bugaboos came to the fore in the loss to Chicago — awful late-game execution. The Warriors went 1-for-8 down the stretch against the Bulls, including 0-for-5 from 3-point range. Their tendency to take 3s early in the shot clock has bitten them a few times this season — with Durant or without Durant, quite frankly.





About Steinmetz

Matt Steinmetz is a veteran San Francisco Bay Area sports journalist. He covered the Golden State Warriors for the Bay Area News Group for more than a decade before becoming a television analyst with Comcast SportsNet Bay Area. Steinmetz can be heard on "Steiny & Guru" on 95.7-FM The Game in San Francisco, from 12-3.
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