Cousins 'pain-free' but uncertain for NBA Finals opener

Toronto (Canada) (AFP) –


Golden State All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins is "pain-free" after tearing a quad muscle last month but Warriors coach Steve Kerr is uncertain he will play in Thursday's NBA Finals opener.

Cousins suffered the torn left quad in only his second career NBA playoff game but the 28-year-old big man has recovered in time to give Kerr another option when the defending NBA champions face host Toronto in the best-of-seven final.

"DeMarcus has done an amazing job coming back from the injury, which we felt at the time was season-ending," Kerr said Wednesday. "He has done an incredible job of rehabbing.

"Now here he is. He has scrimmaged a couple times this week. He's pain-free. So it's really more a matter of rhythm and timing and conditioning."

Kerr did not say if the Warriors would activate Cousins for game one, saying he would if it were the regular season to test his condition. Kerr said situations would dictate what action, if any, Cousins will see.

"This is not the regular season. This is the finals," Kerr said. "So we have to figure out what's the best way to utilize him, how many minutes can he play, what the game feels like, what the matchups are like.

"Some of that will be determined by what's happening in the game and the other stuff is just internal with our staff."

The Warriors, who are also without star forward Kevin Durant due to a right calf strain, added Cousins last July despite a ruptured left Achilles tendon that prevented him from playing until January.

In 30 regular-season games, Cousins averaged 16.3 points, 8.2 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 1.3 steals a game.

- Cousins in the 'hood -

After suffered the injury April 16, Cousins has worked to return. But it means dropping him basically into the NBA Finals with two games of post-season experience.

"A huge challenge," said Warriors forward Draymond Green of Cousins returning for the finals. "He doesn't have much playoff experience... and the intensity level is completely different than a regular-season game.

"And then you get dropped in the NBA Finals. It's kind of like some kid who grew up in the suburbs going to private school and then one day you just got dropped in the 'hood and was told to survive. You got to figure that out. It's very similar to that.

"You just revert to what you know. You just try to do that to survive. DeMarcus is a great basketball player. So at that point then you just go out there and you do what you're great at. And everything else will fall in line."

- No Durant, no problem -

Durant, the NBA Finals Most Valuable Player the past two seasons in leading Golden State to back-to-back titles, has been the Warriors top scorer but Golden State is 5-0 without him in the playoffs, a testament to star guard Stephen Curry and the team's versatility and bench strength.

Durant will miss game one and must practice with club before he will be reinstated to the Warriors' lineup.

"His next step is individual court work, so that will be the next priority over the next couple of days," Kerr said.

"Hopefully he can wrap that up, and then he's going to have to practice. We have to see him in practice before he can play a game and he hasn't practiced yet."

The Warriors are going for their third consecutive NBA title, which hasn't been done since the 2000-02 Los Angeles Lakers, and a fourth crown in five seasons, a feat not seen since the 1969 Boston Celtics.

Toronto reached the NBA Finals for the first time in the club's 24-season history, powered by Kawhi Leonard, the 2014 NBA Finals Most Valuable Player with San Antonio and a two-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year.