Warriors Still Need Kevin Durant, and Any Other Thought Is Ridiculous

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


First things first: The Warriors bring a 2-0 series lead to Portland after taking care of the games at Oracle. When the team travels, Kevin Durant will stay behind.

KD needs at least one more week before returning to the court. He'll be re-evaluated on May 23, which will mark two weeks of him being out with a right calf strain.

Here's the exact update from the team, with a note about DeMarcus Cousins, too:

Our Warriors insider, Monte Poole, later learned KD could miss the entire Western Conference finals.

KD's injury is a big story, but it's not the only story. The Warriors are winning, and they're relying on their experience and poise.

Game On!

Via IG, @jojo_is_blessed21 wonders: With KD out and Steph playing better and the chatter of the ball moving, we play good without him. Do you think this affects KD & his free agency decision?

Via IG, @renegadegabe wonders, With all the noise of the Warriors don't need KD, how is KD reacting and how are his spirits while the Warriors are winning without him. And by all means the Warriors will need him at some point.

The Warriors are winning without KD because they must. It's the playoffs. Lose a series, and the season is over. They're treating KD's injury like any other injury. Next man up.

The Warriors most certainly need KD. I'm confused by conversations that suggest otherwise. He's a two-time NBA Finals MVP. He's arguably the most skilled player in the NBA. Why on Earth would someone suggest they're better without his ball-handling. shooting, assists, length, rim protection and knowledge of this game?

In the regular season, KD averaged 26 points, 6.4 rebounds and 5.9 assists per game. In the playoffs, he's giving the Dubs 34.2 points with 5.2 rebounds and 4.9 assists per game. He's thrilling to have on the team.

Sure, the Warriors won a championship without him. But you cannot freeze a moment in time and think you can repeat the same outcome forever. The rest of the league caught up to the Warriors. They needed KD to evolve.

I don't know what kind of talk KD has heard, but I would hope he finds it ridiculous. It will have no impact on his free agency because the people who matter most to him -- his teammates -- are not part of the chatter. They want him back for the rest of the playoffs, ASAP.

@neesybishop Do Steph and Seth talk between games? Or is it a seperate camp thing until it's over?

@Pibular Does Steph crash on his brothers couch in Portland?

Curry versus Curry is a big deal for the family and the NBA. As you probably heard, this is the first time brothers are competing against each other in a conference final. Monte had a special interview with Dell and Sonya Curry to learn how they're handling the moment.

After Game 1, when I walked by the family room, I noticed more Curry family was there: Ayesha, Sydel, Damion Lee, plus family business partners. This is a historic time that the tight-knit group wants to witness.

Yes, Steph and Seth talk between games. But probably not a lot about basketball. They'll hang out during the series when it makes sense, after the team obligations are done. And no one is sleeping on the couch.

@ENaylorEvents Why doesn't Coach play Kevon Looney more?? He continues to make plays #5️⃣ #WarriorStrong #DubNation #NBAPlayoffs2019 #NBA

Looney has been a star in the postseason. In Game 2, he had 14 points and seven rebounds, plus he shot 6 of 6 from the field. That's a wow performance.

He's played in all 14 playoff games, and he's getting about 20 minutes per game. It was 29 in Game 2. He's not usually a big-minutes guy. Using Looney off the bench suits the rotations the Warriors want to use so they can start Andre Iguodala or Andrew Bogut, depending on matchups.

Looney comes in, does his job setting screens, going to the rim and playing good defense, and then he takes a breather. Back when DeMarcus Cousins re-entered the lineup after Looney was starting, Looney said he'd do whatever the team needed him to do. This is the role the Warriors want for him.

@raulagrait #askKerith Do we expect Damian Jones to be in the rotation or play anything other than garbage time minutes?

I think we'll see some quick bursts for DJ, depending on the situation or the lead. It was a nice surprise seeing him play in the final minutes of Game 1, his first on-court time since he tore a pectoral muscle in December.

DJ obviously is cleared for everything, but Steve Kerr likes to give guys coming off long-term injuries enough runway to feel comfortable. Asking a guy to jump right into the intensity of playoff basketball is a challenge.

The team isn't practicing much this time of year so it can save players' legs for games. But practice is where the players wrapping up rehab get their wind back. Don't expect DJ to take on a big role right now.

Via Reddit: dearsarah says, Hi Kerith, I know the players and media have a somewhat love/hate relationship with each other, but it seems like the warriors have never had an antagonistic attitude towards you. As a reporter, how do you balance the hard questions you know you need to ask them (ie the draymond and KD spat earlier this season) without jeopardizing your journalistic goodwill you've built with them?

I don't know if it's love/hate so much as players get annoyed with media. I'm sure they've gotten annoyed with me sometimes. That's a byproduct of covering stories that aren't always favorable but necessary.

I feel like journalistic goodwill specifically comes into play when it's time to ask about an uncomfortable topic. The players know me now. They know what I'm going to ask, and how I'm going to ask it. The goodwill doesn't go away in tough times. It can actually grow.

When it comes to the reporter group, the beat writers covering the team are fair and sensible. If a player is annoyed, the reporters stand up for themselves AND smooth things over to preserve the relationship. It's a line to walk, and this group does it well.

Via Reddit: McJumbos asks, How often do people think you are related to Doris? And, do you ever trick anyone about that?

"Is Doris Burke your mom?" is a question I get weekly. She is not, but I'm flattered people think I'm related to that great basketball mind.

Via Reddit, skeeter_valentine says Sideline reporters seem to have the complex job of tailoring their postgame questions to the long-term "team narrative" while simultaneously trying to get some sort of immediate personal question to keep things interesting for fans. This season, what is one question that you thought about asking in the heat of the moment, then decide to hold back as a result of the larger team-based, long-term narrative?

I hear what you're saying, but I don't agree that my job is to carry a season-long narrative for the team. If we agree that the two big storylines this season are a chance for a three-peat and KD's free agency, I've asked about the three-peat maybe five times postgame in the regular season, and KD's free agency exactly zero times postgame.

That doesn't mean KD's free agency is unimportant. It means it doesn't fit the moment after game 53 on a Tuesday. Postgame interviews are very reactionary. There's a "what just happened?" factor. What did we just see and what kind of emotion do I need to tap into to make this interview insightful for the viewer? Interviews at practice or sit-downs off to the side are the place for taking a deeper view of the long-term stories.

My preference for conducting a postgame interview goes like this:

1. A question about the team first. What did everyone do well do to get this win? If you ask a player to talk about something other than themselves first, they open up more.

2. Now ask about the individual performance. How did the player have his great moments in the game?

3. A "sum it up" question. Is there something in this game that fit a trend, like a win streak or a string of games with good defense? If so, how are they keeping this trend alive?

There's always room for follow-up questions if the player says something unexpected.

In the playoffs, you're right, things get more big picture. Now is nearly the time to ask the three-peat, because they're getting closer to that goal. Free agency questions fit after the final game, whenever that might be.

@mtknguyen3927 #askKerith now that the local channel is off the air how can we see more questions and more interviews from you?

NBC Sports Bay Area has you covered with our pregame and postgame shows on every game day!

I do two reports pregame. And postgame, I get one-on-one interviews in the hallway. Those air during the postgame show.

Occasionally, there's a Facebook Live and MyTeams app show called Corner Three that I do with Monte and Logan Murdock from the practice facility. Those are like pop-up shows. We announce them about 30 to 60 minutes before the show starts. They're online to watch anytime if you missed it live.

High Five

This week's High Five goes out to @evelyn6105 on Instagram, who showed me the jacket she made last year to cheer for the team. She said she's made a jacket every year since 2008.

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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