DU­RANT OUT FOR FIRST 2 GAMES

Kevin Du­rant likely will miss two West­ern Con­fer­ence Fi­nal games while he re­cov­ers from a strained right calf.

The Tribune (SLO) - - Front Page - BY JANIE MCCAULEY

Kevin Du­rant watched from home in the Bay Area as the Golden State War­riors fin­ished off James Harden and the Hous­ton Rock­ets on the road.

The two-time reign­ing NBA Fi­nals MVP has a bit more cheer­lead­ing to do be­fore he gets back on the court.

Du­rant is likely to miss Games 1 and 2 of the West­ern Con­fer­ence Fi­nals against the Portland Trail Blaz­ers while he re­cov­ers from a strained right calf. Du­rant was in­jured in Game 5 against Hous­ton.

“Ev­ery­one needs to slow down a lit­tle bit on the Kevin stuff. He hasn’t even stepped on the floor yet,” War­riors coach Steve Kerr said Mon­day, a day be­fore Game 1, not­ing a more ex­ten­sive up­date would come Thursday.

Golden State showed it can win with­out KD: Stephen Curry came alive at last in the sec­ond half of the clincher at Hous­ton, scor­ing all 33 of his points af­ter the break.

Curry and Splash Brother Klay Thomp­son will look to build off strong per­for­mances in that fi­nal game against the Rock­ets to lead the top-seeded War­riors. The two-time de­fend­ing cham­pi­ons are seek­ing a fifth straight trip to the NBA Fi­nals.

They will face an­other for­mi­da­ble back­court with Damian Lil­lard and CJ Mc­Col­lum when the best-of-seven se­ries be­gins Tuesday night at Or­a­cle Arena.

There are sev­eral in­trigu­ing sto­ry­lines in this matchup, too, like Portland star Lil­lard com­ing home to Oak­land with a chance to shine on the big stage in the fi­nal sea­son at Or­a­cle be­fore the War­riors move across the bay to play in San Fran­cisco next sea­son.

And how about the Curry brothers? Steph’s lit­tle brother, Seth, plays for the Trail Blaz­ers.

The War­riors swept the Blaz­ers in the first round two years ago dur­ing a re­mark­able 16-1 post­sea­son run.

Lil­lard missed his first six 3-point tries Sun­day then swished one mid­way through the fourth when Portland needed him most. The Trail Blaz­ers over­came a 17-point deficit on Den­ver’s home court to out­last the Nuggets for a 100-96 win.

FAST­ING KAN­TER

An ex­tremely thirsty Enes Kan­ter loaded up his back­pack with five or six bottles of Gat

orade af­ter Game 7 — for later.

The Trail Blaz­ers cen­ter avoids food and drink from sun­rise to sun­set as part of the Mus­lim holy month of Ra­madan. It was that way for the last three games of the Den­ver se­ries and will be that way dur­ing the Golden State se­ries.

Kan­ter said he reached out to NBA great Ha­keem Ola­ju­won for advice on per­form­ing in the play­offs while fast­ing dur­ing Ra­madan.

“The game of bas­ket­ball is mental over phys­i­cal so I think I'll be fine for this stretch,” Kan­ter said.

REST FAC­TOR

Golden State fin­ished off the Rock­ets in Hous­ton on Friday night, so the War­riors got some rest this time af­ter a quick turnaround fol­low­ing a sixgame se­ries in the first round against the Clip­pers in which they had to play again about 40 hours later.

In­jured War­riors big man DeMar­cus Cousins has used the time to con­tinue his re­hab from a torn left quadri­ceps mus­cle suf­fered in Game 2 of the first round against the Clip­pers. It’s un­clear yet whether he might be able to re­turn this round.

TURNOVERS AND REBOUNDING

The War­riors strug­gle when they get sloppy — and it’s a fine line of be­ing chaotic when it works so well and when they be­come care­less and it’s costly.

Portland took good care of the ball in Game 7 com­mit­ting just four turnovers.

On the rebounding front, Golden State won three games when it out­re­bounded the Rock­ets and an­other — Game 6 — de­spite a disad­van­tage on the boards.

The Blaz­ers had 55 re­bounds in the clincher, with Kan­ter grab­bing five on the of­fen­sive glass.

BEN MAR­GOT AP

The Golden State War­riors are likely to be with­out Kevin Du­rant for the first two games of their se­ries against the Portland Trail Blaz­ers while he re­cov­ers from a strained right calf.

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