The Warriors' worst fears after DeMarcus Cousins' Game 2 tumble appear to be coming true.
Cousins is "expected to miss" the remainder of the NBA playoffs with a left quad injury, Yahoo's Chris Haynes reported Tuesday morning. Haynes added, however, that there's "faint optimism" the Warriors' starting center could return for the NBA Finals, should the team advance that far.
League sources confirmed to NBC Sports Bay Area's Logan Murdock that there's fear Cousins might have torn his left quad. One source told Murdock that the center's prospects are "not good at all."
Cousins left Monday's game with what Warriors coach Steve Kerr said afterward was a "pretty significant" injury. Cousins will undergo an MRI on Tuesday morning to reveal the full diagnosis.
Now the Warriors must lean on Kevon Looney, Andrew Bogut and Jordan Bell at center in their NBA playoff first-round series against the Los Angeles Clippers. Looney, in particular, has played well, with a plus-31 in the first two playoffs. He finished Game 2 with a career-high 19 points and five rebounds in 20 minutes.
Bogut and Bell likely would be more limited. Bogut hasn't played more than 24 minutes in a game for the Warriors since rejoining the team from Australia, and he has logged 19 total minutes of playing time in the two games against the Clippers. Bell has played even less in the playoffs, with five total minutes. He played 20 or more minutes in just seven of the 68 regular-season games in which he saw action.
Needless to say, none of those three has the credentials of Cousins, a four-time NBA All-Star who averaged 16.3 points, 8.2 rebounds and 3.6 assists in 30 regular-season games with the Warriors after returning from his torn Achilles.
Cousins' comeback story cruelly ended early in the first quarter Monday, when he reached out for a loose ball, then grimaced in pain as he fell to the court and immediately grabbed his upper left leg. He went to the locker room, and the Warriors quickly ruled him out for the game.
Cousins tore the Achilles in the same leg in January 2018, while playing with the New Orleans Pelicans. He signed a one-year, $5.3 million contract with the Warriors, in the hopes of winning a championship and then cashing in for a bigger deal, but his latest injury puts his future in doubt.
The Warriors must shake both the emotions of Cousins' injury and the NBA-record 31-point lead they squandered in a Game 2 loss that evened their best-of-seven series with the Clippers at one apiece. Game 3 is scheduled for Thursday night in LA.