OAKLAND - Throughout the postseason, the Warriors have teetered along the lines of luck with their health.
In their second playoff game, DeMarcus Cousins tore his quad diving for a loose ball. Two weeks later, against the Houston Rockets, Kevin Durant strained his calf following a jump shot. A week later, Andre Iguodala missed a game with a leg injury. All the while, the champs continually regrouped, posting a 13-5 postseason record.
Their latest blow - which came Sunday night - may be their most damning. In the second half of Game 2, Klay Thompson and Kevon Looney went down with a strained hamstring and a right first costal cartilage non-displaced fracture, respectively. With Durant, Looney and Thompson out Sunday night, the Warriors lost 123-109 Wednesday night. For months the Warriors have been avoiding the perils that come with a depleted roster. Now, as the lost proved, their bad health may be catching up.
"They played really, really hard and gave it everything they had and just ran into a better team tonight," Warriors coach Steve Kerr said.
With Thompson out, Golden State elected to start veteran guard Shaun Livingston. The plan didn't work to start, as the Raptors took an early 26-16 lead. Raptors guard Kawhi Leonard - Thompson's primary defensive assignment - scored 30 points on 9-of-17 from the field, as the Raptors starting five outscored Golden State 106-83.
Thompson's absence also put more of a scoring burden on Stephen Curry. While the guard finished with 47 points, only two other players finished the game in double figures.
Prior to injuring his collarbone, Looney had emerged as one of Golden State's best defenders, helping against Raptors big man Pascal Siakam. In Looney's absence, Siakam scored 18 points, adding nine rebounds, as the Raptors shot 52 percent from the field.
Despite the injuries, Golden State stuck around Wednesday night. When the Raptors went up 17 points in the second half, the Warriors went on a run to cut the deficit to seven behind Curry's outburst.
"I'm very, very proud of the way our guys competed and played," Kerr said. "We didn't play well enough and we ran into a team that played an excellent game."
For much of the postseason, despite injuries, the Warriors have been able to overcome their shortcomings to win crucial playoff games. When Cousins tore his quad against the LA Clippers, the champs got out of the first round in six games. Two weeks later, when Durant strained his calf in Game 5 of the Western Conference Semifinals against the Rockets, the Warriors beat Houston on the road two days later.
Fortunately for Golden State, help seems to be on the way. Over the last several days, Durant has progressed in his on-court workouts and could progress to a five on five scrimmages Thursday, which would improve his prospects for Game 4 Friday night. As for Thompson, there's growing optimism that he could join Durant in the lineup Friday. As for the rest of the team, their confidence remains high as the Finals unfolds.
"Everybody wants to see us lose," Warriors forward Draymond Green said. "So I'm sure people are happy they're hurt. We just got to continue to battle and win the next game, go back to Toronto, win Game 5, come back to Oracle, win Game 6 and then celebrate. Fun times ahead."