Examining Warriors' Vibe, Kevin Durant's Health as NBA Finals Progress

Editor's note: Kerith Burke, NBC Sports Bay Area's Warriors reporter, will take you inside the two-time defending NBA champions as only she can each Friday with the Ask Kerith Mailbag. Send her a question on Twitter and Instagram using the hashtag #askkerith


Lots of injury news to sum up ahead of Warriors-Raptors NBA Finals Game 4. Quickly:

Klay Thompson is expected to play, barring anything weird popping up with his hamstring injury.

Kevin Durant will not play, and Steve Kerr explained KD has not had any setbacks. It's just the uncertain nature of the calf injury.

Kevon Looney, once believed to be out indefinitely, is getting a second opinion, and it's possible he'll play again in the Finals. Logan Murdock has the details here.

You also can get caught up here regarding everything that unfolded with Warriors minority owner Mark Stevens, who shoved Raptors guard Kyle Lowry and yelled vulgar language at him during Game 3. The Warriors and the NBA banned Stevens for a year and fined him $500,000 for it.

Here's the full transcript of what Lowry said about the incident at practice Thursday. There are some powerful feelings in there.

I think that covers it ahead of Game 4 tonight at Oracle Arena. Time for your mailbag questions!

Game On!

@richcacho What's the mood/vibe in the locker room with all these injuries piling up? #askerith

I've been impressed with the way the players have handled this. This whole postseason, they've been peppered with questions about who's not playing while putting together wins with the personnel they have.

"C'est la vie" means "such is life," and that's the way it goes with injuries. They're unfortunate, but they affect all teams. The mood is next man up. All the readiness Kerr preached is coming into play now.

The Warriors are one of the last two teams standing, so the vibe is they're too close to raising another trophy to not wring every last ounce from their bodies to win some more. A chance to three-peat is NBA history. They want to make the most of this moment, hurdles be damned. It's tough.

We shouldn't forget the human element here. The Finals demand the high level of play at the end of the season when the wear and tear on the bodies is the greatest. The guys are like walking ice packs. They're giving it their all.

@paulbassoon not much season left to play-will KD just give it a go or will he look to save himself for the free agency stuff?

KD isn't saving himself for the summer. He's busting his buns to return to play in the Finals.

It's frustrating for him and the team that he isn't cleared to play yet. But that's the not the result of anything lacking in KD's work ethic or a sense of self-preservation. He's invested. It's the nature of this injury and some timing in the postseason.

Calf injuries are tricky. Kerr also wants KD to get in a real practice, or something substantial enough like 3-on-3 or 5-on-5 action to make sure that calf muscle can handle game speed and movements. The team doesn't practice the same way during the playoffs to limit the exertion on players' bodies. That means KD does a lot of work on his own.

KD has been involved with film study and treatment sessions, and he's a force in the locker room, sharing notes with his teammates and gassing them up as they go on and off the court. He absolutely wants to give it a go in the Finals.

@nettle_pesto I'm wondering why KD isn't on the bench like the injured Loon and Klay. Maybe a good question for the mail bag.

Injured guys can receive treatment during games. It's also a comfort thing. It doesn't feel good to sit in a tight space and have to quickly move should someone chase a loose ball and come barrelling into the bench.

You might recall this season that Draymond, Klay, Kevon, DeMarcus, Damian Jones, Andre and Shaun have waited out their injuries in the locker room during games. This is not something to read into, like KD's "not a good teammate." That's the wrong conclusion, and I've seen some people reach for that.

There is something specific to KD, though, and my colleague Monte Poole has touched on this in our episodes of Corner 3. KD has had a massive amount of attention on him this season because of his free agency. He's grown frustrated with the endless stories coming out about him. He half-jokes, half-scolds that he creates too much content for clicks, and that any time he does anything, it's a headline.

If KD is not on the bench, there's no place to get video of him to over-analyze and blast out on social media. Did KD react happily to Steph's bucket? DID HE NOT? Is he listening to the huddles? IS HE NOT? What was that interaction with Draymond, CAN WE LIP-READ IT?

Every moment is scrutinized. There would be an ESPN or TNT camera assigned solely to KD if he were out there.

It's a smart move to avoid that. He doesn't want to be the story. It's about the team right now.

The next questions come from an airport Q&A I did waiting for the plane home from Toronto.

And finally …

@maggiehendricks want to know, If you could choose a Warriors' finals opponent based solely on what NBA city has the best food, who would that opponent be?

I love food questions. NYC, New Orleans, Chicago, Miami and Toronto all came to mind as the places where I've had the best meals. In my NBA, there are five food opponents. Probably needs a bracket.

High Five

This week's goes to @evenstrongerps4 for making some art that answers I question I've received every day during the Finals: "Is Doris Burke your mom?"

This art answers the question with a castle and crow. I'm flattered people think Doris the GOAT and I are related, but it's just a common last name.

Follow Kerith on Twitter @KerithBurke and on Instagram @warriorskerith, and, of course, watch her on NBC Sports Bay Area's Warriors coverage all season.

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