Looney getting the start here might make both he and Cousins slightly more appealing, as it is unlikely Gasol will be very focused on containing Looney’s offensive game, and will allow Cousins to be more ball-dominant with the second unit.
Looney, he of the fractured collarbone, will tough it out and play tonight. It is as of yet unclear whether he or DeMarcus Cousins will get the start, but Looney can be expected to get a decent amount of run regardless of who actually starts, as the Warriors are in need of his toughness and size against the Gasol/Ibaka duo from Toronto. His presence will allow Cousins to be used in shorter bursts, which may actually make Cousins more effective. Both Looney and Cousins can be considered salary saving options for tonight’s game.
As expected, Durant has officially been upgraded from questionable and will play in Monday’s Finals Game 5 matchup against the Toronto Raptors after missing each of the previous four games of the series with a strained right calf. Head coach Steve Kerr did confirm with reporters at shootaround this morning that Durant will be a “full-go” and not be subject to any specific minute restriction, but he did express concern that Durant could be limited by a lack of conditioning as a side effect of the aforementioned injury and plans to play the forward in shorter stints than normal. However, any amount of minutes Durant is able to absorb for this Warriors team is a significant boon to their chances of avoiding elimination and should hopefully reduce, if not, eliminate the need to bring Alfonzo McKinnie and Jonas Jerebko off the bench and see meaningful playing time.
Durant is still technically listed as questionable on the injury report while the Warriors make a final decision on his status, but he is expected to play in Monday’s Finals Game 5 matchup against the Toronto Raptors after missing each of the previous four games of the series with a strained right calf. Head coach Steve Kerr did confirm with reporters at shootaround that Durant will be a “full-go” and not be subject to any specific minute restriction, but he did express concern that the forward could be limited by a lack of conditioning as a side effect of the aforementioned injury. However, any amount of minutes Durant is able to absorb for this Warriors team is a significant boon to their chances of avoiding elimination and should hopefully reduce, if not, eliminate the need to bring Alfonzo McKinnie and Jonas Jerebko off the bench and see meaningful playing time.
Despite previously being ruled out for the rest of the series, the Warriors medical staff has determined that Kevon Looney will be able to suit up tonight. It’s not clear just how much action he’ll see, but his mere availability as an interior presence should shake things up a bit in the Warriors front court. Andrew Bogut will still likely be the primary backup to DeMarcus Cousins, but Looney should get some time at both the 4 and 5 if he’s able to tough it out.
Klay is finally ruled out after being considered both questionable and active earlier in the day, which will open up minutes for Quinn Cook who will need to play a much bigger role as the only other shooting threat on the Warriors besides Steph Curry. The Raptors guards and wings will also find more room to operate without Klay’s defense, as Andre Iguodala is only one man and will be fixated on Kawhi Leonard most of the time. The Warriors may also need to give some extra run to Shaun Livingston, who will start for Klay, and possibly Alfonzo McKinnie, just for the need to have healthy bodies on the floor.
Jordan Bell will start at Center for the Warriors tonight, pairing him up with Marc Gasol, but more importantly meaning DeMarcus Cousins is NOT starting, adding to the increasing murkiness of his viability as a DFS play for tonight’s game. Kevon Looney will maintain his familiar bench role, although it’s unclear how well and Cousins will fare when used on the floor at the same time.
Anunoby has not been a part of the rotation at all during the playoffs, so this doesn’t change much for the Raptors, but he was notably listed as Questionable heading into tonight’s game, which could have potentially siphoned some minutes from either Serge Ibaka or Pascal Siakam depending on match-ups. We won’t have to worry about that tonight, as the Raptors rotation will feature the same players it has in the previous series.
Although this was somewhat expected, Cousins has not seen any action since the first quarter of game 2 of the Warriors first round series against the Clippers, so we should definitely temper our expectations in terms of both his workload and effectiveness. When Cousins was first introduced into the Warriors lineup during the regular season after returning from injury, he would be available to play 5-6 minute spurts at the beginning of each quarter, and was generally not a part of the lineup used to close out games. This is the NBA finals, not the regular season, and Cousins, if effective, would be a huge asset to an otherwise undersized Warriors lineup, but we will have to keep an eye on exactly how coach Kerr deploys him going forward. We also may see how Cousins is deployed somewhat affect how Marc Gasol is used for the Raptors, as he would provide an effective defensive counter to Cousins interior presence.
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