Zillgitt: NBA Playoffs "Wide Open" After Durant Injury

The Warriors are still the favorite, Jeff Zillgitt says, but their margin for error is a lot smaller without Kevin Durant

Reiter Than You
May 09, 2019 - 7:45 pm
Kevin Durant Calf Injury

USA Today Images


Kevin Durant exited Golden State’s Game 5 win over the Rockets on Wednesday, this after straining his right calf in the third quarter. Durant is slated to miss Games 6 and 7 against Houston and will be re-evaluated next week.

And just like that, every team in the NBA has a better chance of winning the NBA title.

“I do think it’s wide open,” USA Today Sports NBA writer Jeff Zillgitt said on Reiter Than You. “Teams who have been trying here the last few years – namely, the Rockets – (have a better chance). But out of the East, though, you see this (after) so many years covering LeBron that these teams have just been stuck with the idea that LeBron is in their path.”

Like the Raptors, who went 2-12 in postseason games against LeBron James the last thee years.

“They couldn’t get past him,” Zillgitt said. “They lost a coach because of him. They saw an opportunity when he wasn’t here to at least get to the Finals. If Golden State doesn’t advance, a team like Houston – and Denver or Portland – probably think that they might have a chance to get to the Finals. That’s how much it opens it up.”

The Warriors, though, are still the favorites and need to win just one of their next two games to reach the conference finals.

“Don’t forget those four guys won a championship without Kevin Durant,” Zillgitt said. “I know they’re a little bit older. They don’t have the depth, but I think it’s 70/30, 65/35 that I think it’s going to be Golden State (getting to the NBA Finals). But those are pretty solid chances. Denver is really impressing me the way they’re playing. With the lack of depth, the lack of Kevin Durant, I don’t think it would just be a four-game sweep for Golden State. And if Houston were to make it, I would still think it’s about the same. Houston is a better team, but Denver has been really impressive the way they’ve played. So I’m not ruling out the fact that Denver could win the next series.”