Durant’s Calf Strain Leaves NBA Playoff Odds in Flux for Warriors

Posted on: May 10, 2019, 01:39h. 

Last updated on: May 10, 2019, 01:39h.

After tonight, the Golden State Warriors will either be one step closer to their fourth NBA title in five years or a step closer to an uncertain future.

Kevin Durant goes to the bench after injuring his right leg in the third quarter of Wednesday’s NBA playoff game against Houston. The Warriors announced their star forward will miss the rest of the series due to a calf strain. (Image: John G. Mabanglo, EPA-EFE)

The Warriors, the league’s two-time defending champions, head to Houston for Game Six of their Western Conference Semifinal with the Rockets. Golden State leads the series 3-2 and can clinch a spot in the conference final with a win at the Toyota Center.

But to do that, they’ll need to do it without their biggest star, Kevin Durant. The forward left the game in the third quarter of Wednesday’s 104-99 win. On Thursday afternoon, the team announced he suffered a strained right calf.

He did not travel with the squad to Houston for Friday’s game, and if the Rockets force the series to a seventh game, which would take place Sunday in Oakland, Durant’s expected to miss that game as well.

In a series as tightly contested as most expected, Durant found a way to step up his game before going down with the injury. He averaged a team-best 33.2 points in the first five games, more than seven points better than his regular-season average, His 43.8 percent shooting from beyond the 3-point arc in the series represents an eight-point jump from the regular season.

Obviously, we’re disappointed he won’t be able to play in this series, but if we’re able to win the series and move on, it looks good for his return,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr told reporters Thursday.

The injury brings back memories of how last year’s Warriors-Rockets series. The Rockets held a 3-2 lead in the conference final, but they lost Chris Paul to a hamstring injury late in Game Five. Without the services of its starting point guard, Houston could not win one of the final two games in the series, allowing the Warriors to advance to the NBA Finals.

If the Rockets come back to win the series, it’s possible Durant may have played his last game for the Warriors. The 30-year-old star is expected to hit the free agent market in the offseason

The Game Line

The Rockets entered Game Six as favorites to extend the series to a decisive seventh game, and news of Durant’s injury only swung the odds more in their favor.

The straight-up money line went -300 to -330 for Houston, meaning a bet of $330 would win $100. Most Las Vegas sportsbook started the Rockets as 7.5-point favorites, but the lines have since settled to a 7-point spread.

Durant’s injury also has affected the series price at sportsbooks. Prior to Wednesday’s Game Five win, which put the Warriors within a win of clinching, FanDuel’s sportsbook listed them as -260 favorites over the Rockets.

However, by Friday afternoon, the book listed Golden State at -194.

Futures Outlook

Durant’s injury also didn’t just affect the series line. It also caused sportsbooks to re-evaluate their position on the Warriors as the favorite to win the NBA title.

Even factoring the injury, the Warriors remain the favorite. However, the Warriors odds are now above even-money.

Prior to the start of the Rockets-Warriors series, PointsBet had the Warriors at -143, and FanDuel offered -135. Those odds are now +115 and +125 respectively, even with the Warriors a win away from advancing and likely getting Durant back at some point in the conference final.

The Rockets odds, meanwhile, have dropped from +600 and +550, respectively, to +450 and +400.

“In a vacuum, the move would appear counterintuitive, as the win gave Golden State a 3-2 series lead and put Houston on the brink of elimination,” PointsBet posted on its blog. “In reality, it’s an indicator that regardless of the seriousness of the injury… it’s already had an effect on the market.”

ESPN will televise tonight’s game, which starts at 9 pm ET.