NBA: Warriors' Durant listed as questionable for Game 5 but Raptors' VanVleet cleared to play

Kevin Durant trained with the Golden State Warriors on June 9, 2019, for the first time in more than a month since suffering a calf injury.
Kevin Durant trained with the Golden State Warriors on June 9, 2019, for the first time in more than a month since suffering a calf injury.PHOTO: AFP

OAKLAND (REUTERS) - The Golden State Warriors on Sunday (June 9) listed All-Star Kevin Durant as questionable for their must-win Game 5 of the National Basketball Association Finals against the Toronto Raptors.

Durant trained with the team on Sunday for the first time in more than a month but media reports said he was not on court for very long and was photographed leaving with an ice bag on his injured calf.

The Warriors trail the Toronto Raptors 3-1 ahead of Monday's game in Canada, where the home team can become the first to bring the championship north of the border.

The calf injury has kept Durant out of the first four games of the best-of-seven series.

Asked if his hopes of a Durant return had risen in the past couple of days, head coach Steve Kerr told reporters: "Yeah, because what he's going to do today he hasn't done.

"He's doing more today and then we'll know more after that.

"He's going to practise with us today, and he'll get some extra work in with some of our younger players. We'll gauge it from there."

Durant has won back-to-back Finals Most Valuable Player awards over the past two seasons, leading Golden State to consecutive championships.

But without Durant this time, the Warriors have struggled against the Raptors.

Golden State were outscored 37-21 in the third period of Game 4 on Friday, and Kerr is grateful for a three-day break to pick up the pieces.

"We made a lot of defensive mistakes that seemed borne from just the frustration and maybe fatigue, just from we're playing guys heavy minutes and all that stuff," he said.

"That's why I'm pleased that there will be two days before the next game and the next couple after that, if we can keep extending the series.

"As we get healthier and have some time to heal and rest, I like our chances."

There was, however, good news for the Raptors after back-up point guard Fred VanVleet was cleared to play in Game 5.

He had taken an accidental, thundering elbow to the head in the fourth quarter of Game 4.

The key reserve said that he was cleared with no concussion symptoms, but he will have to use a mouthpiece after several medical visits since Friday.

"I got back home, went to the hospital, got a CT scan to make sure that no bones were broken in my face," VanVleet said. "Then (I) went and made a visit to the dentist, and went home and went to sleep."

The Raptors defeated the Warriors in Game 4 despite losing VanVleet to a cut under his right eye, which required several stitches, with 9min 35sec remaining.

Golden State's Shaun Livingston was fouled by Serge Ibaka on a drive attempt, but the Warriors back-up guard fell backward into VanVleet, with his elbow cutting open VanVleet's face and chipping VanVleet's tooth during the fall.

The somewhat gruesome scene on Friday included VanVleet lying on the court with blood pouring out from under his right eye, which was stitched up in the locker room as the Raptors held off the Warriors.

"It was a weird play, and I took an unfortunate shot," said VanVleet, who admitted he is uncomfortable wearing mouthpieces. "And so now I will be wearing a mouthpiece for as long as I can manage it. I'll probably throw it at some point during the game, but I'm going to try."

The Raptors are assuredly relieved that the third-year point guard will be available for Game 5. VanVleet has been an essential bench performer, averaging 12.8 points in 33.4 minutes per game in the series. He has shot 45.2 per cent from the field, including 8-for-23 from three3-point range. He had scored in double digits for six straight play-off games until scoring eight in his abridged Game 4 appearance.