Golden State Warriors center DeMarcus Cousins is expected to miss the remainder of the postseason with a significant left quadriceps injury, but there’s faint optimism that he could possibly return for the NBA Finals, according to league sources.
Cousins, 28, will undergo an MRI on Tuesday morning, which should reveal if the Finals are a realistic target for the four-time All-Star, sources said.
But the Warriors, sources said, are mentally preparing for the worst: a torn quad diagnosis and a postseason run devoid of Cousins.
“There’s a pretty significant quad injury,” coach Steve Kerr said after the Warriors’ Game 2 collapse in their first-round series against the Los Angeles Clippers on Monday. “We’ll get an MRI [Tuesday]. But he’s going to be out for … I’ll just say a while because I think it’s unclear right now how long he’ll be out. It’s significant.”
Cousins sustained the injury in the first quarter, when he pursued a loose ball and his left leg gave out after getting a hand on the ball. The 6-foot-10 center immediately grabbed his left quadriceps and asked to be pulled from the game.
He refused assistance to the locker room by teammates and walked off on his own power to be examined with cameras catching what appeared to be a noticeable injury to his quad.
The Warriors’ big man is only a few months removed from returning from a left Achilles tear that sidelined him for a year, and for the first time in his nine NBA seasons, he was experiencing his first taste of a long playoff run.
“It’s tough, for sure,” Stephen Curry said. “You feel for him, considering what he’s been through this last year. This is a big stage, the playoffs. He’s been looking forward to this. I don’t know the extent of the injury at this point. Hope he gets back sooner than later. Just man to man, in terms of him, what he’s been through, it’s tough for sure. There’s no sugarcoating it at all. You hate seeing that opportunity again on this big stage taken away from him like that.”
Cousins, who averaged 16.3 points and 8.2 rebounds in 30 games this season, is facing another major blow that could conclude his season for the second consecutive year.
But the Warriors also have other issues.
The defending champs blew a 31-point, third-quarter lead and relinquished — for the moment — home-court advantage after losing 135-131. Now the series is even heading to Los Angeles for Game 3 on Thursday.
“You just love this group,” said Clippers coach Doc Rivers. “They don’t give in.”
And in a sure sign of frustration with the way the game turned out, Kevin Durant and Draymond Green left the arena without addressing the media.
It was the Warriors’ first playoff defeat in the shot-clock era in which they led by 15 or more points at halftime. And according to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Clippers became the second team in NBA history to trail by 23 or more points at the half and win.
“We’re some tough guys,” Clippers owner Steve Ballmer told reporters after the win. “Physical and mental, we’re some tough guys. Damn, I love our guys.”
With the physical nature of the Clippers, a team that doesn’t have an All-Star on the roster, it wouldn’t behoove the Warriors to drag out this series.
Patrick Beverley continues to be physical with Durant, delivering body shots from his head and elbows while denying him the ball. And Durant took a few hard screens, one from JaMychal Green that stung him and had him bent over in pain for a few seconds.
Taking a pounding in an extended first-round series isn’t ideal for a championship favorite.
Montrezl Harrell, who had 25 points and 10 rebounds off the bench for the Clippers, pulled out his JBL Pill speaker after the game in the locker room and played “Clean Up Man” by Houston’s own Willie D.