On Wednesday night, Kevin Durant injured his right calf landing after a jumper during the third quarter of Game 5 against the Houston Rockets. I feel cold hearted for saying this, but I am somewhat excited about it. As much as I hate KD’s decision to join the Warriors a couple of years back, I would never actually wish injury upon him. However, I think this particular  one makes the playoffs much more interesting.

Firstly, I just like the Warriors better without Durant. Before he got there, I considered them to be one of most electric and fascinating teams in the league and respected the hell out of how they got to that spot. They were a team built almost entirely through the draft. Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green all drafted  to the Warriors, but none were initially expected to become superstars— Green wasn’t even a first round pick, and now he’s one of the Association’s best defenders.

When I watched the Warriors win a championship then break the regular season win record the next year, I thought I was watching the next great sports dynasty take the throne. While they have added two more Larry O’Brien trophies to their collection since Durant joined the squad, something just hasn’t felt the same. The Warriors were no longer the exciting young team of prolific shooters fans had gotten to know so well. Instead, they had become a juggernaut with more talent than they knew what to do with. Their ball movement and interplayer chemistry were no longer the same. They would often go down early in games but still had three of the greatest players in the league. Therefore, one is bound to eventually catch fire and lead the team to victory. With Durant out at least for the remainder of this series, maybe we’ll catch a glimpse of the old squad, when Steph and Klay were leading the charge with their endless three pointers.

Durant will be medically evaluated next week, but he is definitely out for the remainder of this series. It doesn’t take much prior basketball knowledge to understand this injury drastically opens up the West to endless possibilities for which team can win the conference. In my personal opinion, all four remaining teams have legitimate chances to make it to the finals, and KD’s injury only increases the likelihood that Golden State will not be there.

On the other hand, Durant’s absence could potentially help the Warriors. They put together a fantastic full-team effort in Game 5, and they hadn’t necessarily dominated this series before his injury anyway. The team certainly still has mounds of talent, especially considering newly-discovered stout defense from Kevon Looney.

I hate to see players get injured and I certainly hope Durant’s calf injury is nothing serious. But that being said, I’m a huge fan of the NBA playoffs, and the best team losing their best player would make a huge difference as far as parity goes. For the first time in a few years, there are actually multiple teams who could potentially win the championship. But don’t forget what the Warriors can and have done without him. They are up 3-2 and certainly don’t plan on losing any time soon.

-Jake Hornyak

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