OAKLAND, Calif. — A playoff series that began as a story of two key injuries scripted a new chapter on the eve of Game 2 on Wednesday night.
Three days after he was healthy enough to score 32 points in the series opener, Golden State star forward Kevin Durant was listed as questionable with a strained left calf as the Warriors prepare to face the Portland Trail Blazers in a continuation of their first-round Western Conference best-of-seven series.
Warriors coach Steve Kerr said the nagging injury occurred during Durant’s 36 minutes of action in Golden State’s 121-109 victory Sunday.
Durant was held out of the Tuesday workout.
“If he didn’t practice, there’s concern,” Kerr said.
Meanwhile, nothing has changed in regards to the status of Trail Blazers center Jusuf Nurkic, who missed the series opener due to a fractured right leg.
Portland coach Terry Stotts said after Game 1 that he expected Nurkic, who sustained the injury March 30, to be available at some point in the series.
After practice Tuesday, Nurkic said that day would not be Wednesday.
“I’m not 100 percent. I’m close, but I’m not going to play the second game,” he said. “Definitely I want to play. I think the team is right: I need to be watching out for the future. And right now, Game 2, I’m not ready.”
Durant missed the final 19 games of the regular season with a strained knee, and Nurkic sat out Portland’s final seven contests.
But until Sunday, neither team had seen its rival without its frontcourt star.
Now, both could.
Portland won the battle of the backcourts in Game 1, with CJ McCollum (41 points) and Damian Lillard (34) outscoring Warriors counterparts Stephen Curry (29) and Klay Thompson (15) by a whopping 75-44.
But Golden State had the game’s two most productive frontcourt players, with Draymond Green complementing Durant with a brilliant all-around performance that featured 19 points, 12 rebounds, nine assists, five blocked shots and three steals.
Meanwhile, Portland’s three starting frontcourt players — Evan Turner, Moe Harkless and Noah Vonleh — combined for only 25 points on 9-for-25 shooting.
“We need everybody,” Stotts said after Game 1. “Damian and CJ, if they get 80 (points) between them, we still need to score another 40 or 50 somewhere.”
The Warriors swept the Trail Blazers 4-0 in the regular season, with all four meetings occurring before the All-Star break.
Counting last season’s 4-1 victory in the Western semifinals, Golden State has beaten Portland in 11 of the past 12 contests.
But now Golden State might have to try to continue the run without Durant.
“We’ve been in this situation very recently, so we understand ‘next man up’ and the way that we need to play when certain guys are out,” Curry said. “It all starts obviously defensively. Based on our Game 1, we need to pick it up on that end anyway, so it should be a good challenge.”
The Warriors also placed veteran backup Shaun Livingston on the injury report for Game 2, citing a sprained right index finger and bruised hand. Like Durant, he is considered a game-time decision.