Wounded Warriors call for backup

OAKLAND • If the short-handed Golden State Warriors manage to win their third straight NBA Finals and fourth title in five years, the trainers and medical staff should be in the consideration for the Finals’ Most Valuable Player award.

The two-time National Basketball Association defending champions are level with Toronto at 1-1 entering Game 3 in Oakland, California, today but injuries to key men have the Warriors uncertain just who will suit up against the Raptors.

The hosts have already lost Kevon Looney, one of the team’s “cornerstones” and who is among their most dependable role players, with career highs of 6.3 points and 5.2 rebounds per game this season.

The centre, who missed the entire second half of Game 2 after suffering a chest injury, will be out indefinitely for the post-season after scans revealed a rib fracture, the team announced on Monday.

Klay Thompson, one of their most-dependable shooters, is also a doubt after a scan confirmed a strained hamstring that the guard picked up against Toronto.

With Kevin Durant yet to be cleared for practice after missing seven play-off games owing to a calf strain, the Warriors are set to be further tested on their depth – and coach Steve Kerr is expecting his reserves to elevate their game.

He said: “We’ll see about all the injuries. You need your bench, no matter what but, in particular, when you’ve got a lot of injuries.”

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He was fantastic and we needed everything he gave out there, his rebounding, his toughness, his physical presence.

STEVE KERR, Warriors coach, on centre DeMarcus Cousins, who missed the entire post-season before the NBA Finals.

While Thompson described himself as “good to go” following Game 2 and brushing off his hamstring as “just tight”, Kerr remains cautious.

He added: “Klay said he’ll be fine, but Klay could be half-dead and he would say he would be fine.

“He pulled his hamstring. He thinks it is minor, so I don’t know what that means going forward.”

All this points to more game time for DeMarcus Cousins, who played nearly 28 minutes in Game 2 after going only eight minutes in the opener on his return from a torn quadriceps which had sidelined him for six weeks.

Declaring his confidence “we can continue to get good minutes from him”, Kerr said: “He was fantastic and we needed everything he gave out there, his rebounding, his toughness, his physical presence.

“He feels good in there right now. We’re going to need them with all these injuries.”

Cousins is also relishing his first NBA Finals after practically missing the entire post-season, and the centre plans on stepping up his output because he “is not satisfied” with playing a reduced role.

Although the Warriors are struggling to figure out who will be healthy enough to play and which reserves can play crucial minutes, Kerr has utmost trust in his bench as “they’ve proven that they can really help us”.

Their motto is “Strength in Numbers” and Stephen Curry believes that depth tribute is true now more than ever.

The guard said: “Everybody’s going to have a chance to help us at some point. Just stick with it and be patient.”

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, DPA

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