Only four franchises have won three consecutive NBA Finals, and the Golden State Warriors have a chance to join a select group.

Golden State will appear in their fifth consecutive championship series, which begins on Thursday with Game 1 against the Toronto Raptors, who are making their debut in the final stage of the postseason.

The Warriors have been here before and are considered favourites to win it all, but Toronto will not go down without a fight.

Here, we take a look at what the Warriors need to do to three-peat.

Slow down Kawhi Leonard

No player has scored more points in this year's postseason than Leonard. Warriors star Stephen Curry ranks second with 437 points, a whopping 124 fewer than the Raptors superstar's total of 561.

Leonard is averaging 31.2 points per game and trails only injured Warriors star Kevin Durant and Houston Rockets guard James Harden in that category. Leonard is a threat to score inside and can create contact to get to the line.

The forward also has 159 rebounds in Toronto's postseason run, which is third among all players. His relentlessness and instinctive manoeuvres to pull down boards create second-chance looks for himself and his team-mates. He needs to be located and boxed out on every possession, as he can make the opposition pay if he is left alone.

If Golden State want to limit the Raptors' options, then they should start with Leonard.

Be consistent from three-point range

The Warriors have been this year's top team when it comes to shooting from beyond the arc. They are converting 37 per cent of their attempts from range, but they have been streaky at times.

Golden State have lost only four games so far in the postseason and they made fewer three-pointers than their opponents in three of them. The Raptors have held opposing teams to just 31.3 per cent shooting from deep and have proved to be elite when defending the perimeter. 

The Warriors normally have home-court advantage to help them out of shooting slumps, but this series begins at a hostile Scotiabank Arena.

Quality minutes from reserves

Golden State's rotation has deepened since its second-round series against the Rockets. Without Durant and DeMarcus Cousins, players like Kevon Looney and Jordan Bell have played more minutes.

While the Warriors may be hesitant to utilise 11 players like they did against the Portland Trail Blazers in the Western Conference Finals, injuries could force them to be creative with lineups.

Raptors reserves Fred VanVleet, Serge Ibaka and Norman Powell have been outstanding as of late. If they continue to perform, then Golden State's bench could struggle to match their production.

Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant will not play in Game 1 of the NBA Finals against the Toronto Raptors while center DeMarcus Cousins is questionable, head coach Steve Kerr told reporters on Monday.

Durant has been out since straining his calf in Golden State's Game 5 win over the Houston Rockets in the Western Conference semi-finals. 

The Warriors went on to close out Houston in six games before sweeping the Portland Trail Blazers in the Western Conference Finals.

Durant was having a stellar postseason before the injury. He averaged 34.2 points and 5.2 rebounds while shooting 51.3 per cent from the field in 11 playoff games.

And Kerr confirmed that two-time NBA Finals MVP Durant will not be fit to play Thursday's opener.

Meanwhile, Cousins tore his left quadriceps muscle during the Warriors' first-round series in mid-April and Kerr confirmed he is closer to a return than Durant. 

Cousins signed a one-year, $5.3million deal with the Warriors in July and missed the team's first 45 games as he continued to recover from a torn Achilles.

He finished the regular season averaging 16.3 points and 8.2 rebounds in 25.7 minutes per appearance.

Kevin Durant and DeMarcus Cousins should both play for the Golden State Warriors "at some point" in the NBA Finals.

The Warriors defeated the Portland Trail Blazers to reach the Finals for a fifth consecutive year, where they will face either the Milwaukee Bucks or the Toronto Raptors.

But defending champions Golden State will be without Durant and Cousins for the start of the series as they continue to recover from injuries.

Durant has been out since straining a calf in the first round, while Cousins tore his quadriceps in the same series.

The pair were assessed by Warriors medical staff on Thursday and are deemed to be making "good progress" but the team would not put a date on their returns.

Cousins is more advanced, having joined Golden State in practice.

"Warriors forward Kevin Durant (strained right calf) and center DeMarcus Cousins (torn left quadriceps muscle) were evaluated by the team's medical staff earlier today," a statement read.

"Durant, who has not yet been cleared to begin on-court activities, continues to make good progress with his rehabilitation.

"At this point, it is unlikely that he will play at the beginning of the 2019 NBA Finals, but it's hopeful that he could return at some point during the series.

"Cousins also continues to make good progress with his rehabilitation and practiced with the team today for the first time since suffering the injury on April 16.

"It's anticipated that he will play at some point during the 2019 NBA Finals, but the exact date is to be determined and depends on his progress.

"The status for both players will be updated next Wednesday [May 29]."

Durant, who has been named the Finals MVP in each of his two years in Oakland, has been widely linked with a move to the New York Knicks in free agency.

Kevin Durant's former team-mate Kendrick Perkins said "don't be surprised" if the Golden State Warriors star joins the Los Angeles Clippers.

Durant is expected to become a free agent after the NBA season and the two-time champion has widely been linked to the New York Knicks.

But Durant's friend and former Oklahoma City Thunder team-mate Perkins believers the Clippers are a contender to add the 10-time All-Star and two-time NBA Finals MVP.

"Don't be surprised if KD signs with the Clippers," Perkins told FS1. "Everybody keeps screaming New York but do not be surprised if KD signs [with Los Angeles]."

The New York Times also reported earlier this week the "Clippers have emerged as an equally dangerous threat to the Knicks to sign Durant away from Golden State".

Perkins, who played with Durant in Oklahoma City from 2011-15, said his former team-mate has been impressed by Clippers head coach Doc Rivers.

Rivers coached Perkins in Boston and the pair won a championship together with the Celtics in 2007-08.

"I don't need to help recruit [Durant to play for Rivers]," Perkins said. "He likes the organisation. He likes Doc Rivers. He loves Doc Rivers."

Durant has not played since straining his calf in Golden State's Game 5 win over the Houston Rockets in the Western Conference semi-finals.

The Warriors went on to close out Houston in six games before sweeping the Portland Trail Blazers in the Western Conference Finals.

Durant has averaged 26 points and 6.4 rebounds for the Warriors this season.

Two-time reigning champions Golden State will play the winner of the Eastern Conference Finals series between the Milwaukee Bucks and Toronto Raptors in the NBA Finals. The series is tied at 2-2 heading into Game 5 on Thursday.

 

Golden State Warriors star Kevin Durant has been ruled out of Games 3 and 4 of the Western Conference finals.

Durant will not travel with the Warriors to face the Portland Trail Blazers on Saturday and Monday due to a calf strain, Golden State general manager Bob Myers told NBC Sports Bay Area prior to Thursdays' Game 2.

"Warriors forward Kevin Durant, who suffered a strained right calf in Game 5 of the Western Conference semi-finals against the Houston Rockets on May 8, has shown good progress since beginning his rehabilitation program one week ago," the Warriors said in a statement.

"At this point, Durant is not ready to advance to on-court work."

The Warriors added: "At this time, the plan is for both players [including DeMarcus Cousins] to be re-evaluated in one week. Both Durant and Cousins were examined by the team's medical staff earlier today."

Durant suffered a strained right calf during Golden State's Game 5 win over the Houston Rockets last week and did not travel with the team for the Warriors' Game 6 victory on Friday.

He has yet to play against the Trail Blazers in the Western Conference finals, which the Warriors lead 1-0.

Durant has averaged 34.2 points, 5.5 rebounds and 4.9 assists for the Warriors in the NBA playoffs this season.

Stephen Curry said reigning NBA champions the Golden State Warriors have to adjust their game plan without star Kevin Durant in the line-up.

Durant has not played since straining his calf in Golden State's Game 5 win over the Houston Rockets last week and he is still "not close" to returning, according to reports.

Golden State guard Curry was asked how the Warriors' offensive strategy has changed without Durant on the floor ahead of Thursday's Western Conference final Game 2 against the Portland Trail Blazers.

"Without KD, we have to play differently," Curry told ESPN's 'The Jump. "We have to highlight what everybody’s strengths are and do it by committee.

"You hear the noise, 'KD goes out, nobody, it's weird to say gave us a shot or said we shouldn't have won the Houston series' or whatever the case is. Again, confidence and trust in each other to be able to make that adjustment on the fly."

The Warriors eliminated the Rockets in Game 6 of their semi-final series and have since taken a 1-0 lead over the Trail Blazers in the Conference finals.

"It's fun to win. I don't care what the narrative is," Curry said. "When [Durant] goes out, when he's not in the line-up, we have the ability to shift. … Again, I like winning. Whoever is on the floor, we know how to get that done."

Curry scored 36 points and hit nine three-pointers in Golden State's Game 1 win over the Trail Blazers. His brother, Seth, is a backup guard for Portland.

"Let's just put it this way, when he's on defense, I could care less, because I need to get my buckets, I need to score," the Warriors star said. "But, when I was guarding him, he had a corner three in front of our bench and it's such a mixed feeling. I can't really turn it off, to be honest. … It's just weird."

 

Portland Trail Blazers' Seth Curry does not think the Golden State Warriors are a better team without Kevin Durant but he does think the two-time reigning NBA champions are harder to guard.

Golden State star Durant missed the opening game of the Western Conference finals due to a calf strain as the Warriors beat the Trail Blazers 116-94 on Tuesday.

Curry – the younger brother of Warriors superstar Stephen Curry – was asked about facing Golden State without Durant ahead of Thursday's Game 2 at Oracle Arena.

"I think they are harder to guard [without Durant]," Seth Curry told The Athletic. "They move around faster when he's not out there. They're definitely not a better team, but they're harder to guard.

"Obviously, they play a different style of basketball when Steph and [Golden State guard] Klay [Thompson] are the focal points offensively, and we haven't played that team in a while. We've got to re-shift our focus and make some adjustments."

Portland's Curry scored three points on one-of-seven shooting in Game 1, while his brother finished with 36 points and hit nine three-pointers to lead Golden State to victory.

Durant – a two-time champions and NBA Finals MVP – has not played since he suffered the injury in Golden State's Game 5 win over the Houston Rockets last week.

He is still "not close" to returning, according to an earlier report from ESPN.

Warriors team-mate Klay Thompson told reporters Durant is "dying" to get back on the court.

"Just him being back there in the locker room and being around practice, I know he’s just dying to get out there on the court," Thompson said, via The Mercury News. "But we definitely feel his energy, and we can't wait until he comes back. We miss him."

 

The Western Conference Finals begin on Tuesday when the Portland Trail Blazers travel to the Golden State Warriors in Game 1.

Golden State has overcome several postseason injuries to key players while Portland has surpassed the expectations of most.

Omnisport looks at three things that could determine the outcome of this series between the Warriors and Trail Blazers.

Kevin Durant's health

The absence of the postseason's top scorer will definitely affect Golden State's offense. Durant has not played since Game 5 of the second round, when he suffered what has been described as a mild calf sprain. One report on Monday said the star could realistically miss four to five games of the Blazers series while recovering.

Durant has averaged 34.2 points per game through 11 playoff contests, but he is effective elsewhere as well. The two-time NBA Finals MVP averages 5.2 rebounds, 4.9 assists and 1.2 steals per game. 

His tall frame and astonishing quickness make him one of the NBA's most versatile defenders. His mobility allows him to guard any position and create plenty of mismatches when he initiates the offense.

Part of what makes Golden State so great is their seemingly limitless arsenal, but with two starters down with injuries - Durant and big man DeMarcus Cousins - the Warriors seem considerably more vulnerable.

Stephen Curry is battling a dislocated finger and that makes matters even worse.

Damian Lillard's efficiency

Damian Lillard was not at his best in the second round. 

The Trail Blazers star struggled to be efficient against the Denver Nuggets. He averaged 25.1 points per game in the series but shot just 39.6 percent from the field. He was worse from deep, making just 27 percent of his attempts from behind the arc.

Lillard is deadly when he is on form, and he will need to be that to counter the most efficient three-point shooting team in the playoffs. The Warriors are shooting 37.2 percent from range and will likely throw plenty of bodies at Lillard to limit Portland's offense. Klay Thompson and Andre Iguodala will likely be assigned these roles.

Lillard was phenomenal in the first round against the Oklahoma City Thunder, who are one of the best defensive teams in the NBA. He averaged 33 points per game while shooting 45.3 percent from the field and 46.9 percent from deep.

These numbers probably will not be replicated, but it is clear that Portland's star is capable of so much more. He will need to play closer to his ceiling to reach the NBA Finals.

Bench production

Golden State's rotation choices could be interesting moving forward. The Warriors' bench minutes seemed to diminish against the Houston Rockets. Durant's injury forced them to surprisingly use 11 players in their decisive Game 6 win against Houston.

The Warriors got 33 bench points in that contest, which is unusual for a team that ranks 14th in reserve points per game out of the 16 teams in this year's playoffs. The Warriors are averaging 22 bench points per game, but Portland have not been much better.

The Trail Blazers rank 10th, averaging 27.8 bench points per game.

Getting unexpected baskets from second units could be the force that pushes one side over the top.

Kawhi Leonard's performances in the NBA playoffs this season, as well as the solid ones in the pre-season, have begged the question about whether or not he is the best player in the NBA. A certain Kevin Durant comes up for mention as well. The zone team looks at these two phenomenal basketball players.

The Golden State Warriors "desperately need" Kevin Durant back if they are to three-peat, according to Klay Thompson.

A calf injury meant Durant was absent on Friday when the Warriors defeated the Houston Rockets 118-113 in Game 6 to advance to a fifth straight Western Conference Finals.

The Warriors are due to host either the Denver Nuggets or the Portland Trail Blazers at Oracle Arena in the first game of that series on Tuesday, with coach Steve Kerr stating on Friday that Durant would be assessed again "in a week".

And though they beat the Rockets without him, Thompson stressed Durant will be vital if the back-to-back defending champions are to follow in the footsteps of Michael Jordan's Chicago Bulls and Kobe Bryant's Los Angeles Lakers and three-peat.

"Like Steve Kerr said, we didn't have the ultimate luxury tonight - a guy who can go out there and get you 40 [points], on a whim," Thompson told reporters.

"We had to play a little more diligent with the ball, we had to be more crisp with our passes and the room for error was a lot less compared to when Kevin's out there.

"I'm happy we won so we can get some rest and get him healthy because if we're going to get this three-peat we desperately need him back, he's our best player.

"We dearly miss him. We'll hold it down while he's out but it's not the same without him, far from it."

Speaking about Durant's injury prior to Game 6, Kerr had said it looked "good for his return in the not-too-distant future".

However, with three games of the Western Conference Finals taking place next week on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, two-time NBA Finals MVP Durant may only become involved later in the series.

"We're going to re-evaluate him, I think, in a week," Kerr said after the win on Friday.

"And we'll see. There's really no way of making any predictions right now. It's an injury that requires an update every few days. As of now, we don't have any updates."

Given the Game 6 victory over the Rockets came without Durant and DeMarcus Cousins, another multiple All-Star currently sidelined by injury, Kerr was quick to stress the value of the win.

"It's one of the most satisfying victories we've had during this run," Kerr admitted.

Golden State Warriors star Klay Thompson said it will be hard to fill Kevin Durant's void against the Houston Rockets in the NBA playoffs.

Defending NBA champions the Warriors will be without Durant for Game 6 of the Western Conference semi-finals due to a calf strain.

Discussing Durant's absence, Thompson believes if the Warriors can rotate as a team and communicate, they can walk away with a win and advance to the Conference finals.

"We have to play with great passion and great heart," Thompson said. "It obviously won't be as smooth without Kevin out there.

"But if we play with those things listed, we'll give ourselves a chance to win. It won't be pretty. But it's the playoffs. I'll take any chance you can get it."

Warriors star Stephen Curry added: "I'll just play my game. I didn't wake up today with extra weight on my shoulders or anything.

"I feel like that every single day. I just play basketball and have fun doing it.

"No matter what the situations is, it's coming in with the right mindset. I have to play well and be aggressive. I'd like to shoot the ball better. But my confidence stays the same. I'll just play my game."

Entering Friday's game, the Warriors have a slight edge as they lead the series 3-2.

Kevin Durant's status for Game 6 with the Houston Rockets is officially up in the air, but Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr is in no doubt the star forward will not play on Friday.

Durant is scheduled to have an MRI exam on Thursday after limping out of the Warriors' 104-99 Game 5 win on Wednesday, which gave them a 3-2 lead in the Western Conference semi-final series.

The Warriors described his injury as a right calf strain, which Durant appeared to suffer late in the third quarter after attempting a mid-range jump shot. He landed awkwardly, without any contact, and then reached for his lower leg.

"He's not going to play Game 6," Kerr told The Athletic. "We can all pretend and just say he's doubtful. But he's not playing Game 6."

If the Warriors lose Game 6, attention would turn to Durant's potential availability for a decisive Game 7, for which the defending champions would have homecourt advantage.

"Maybe he can bounce back soon, and we can win another game in this series and move forward and maybe get him back," Kerr  told NBC Sports Bay Area after the game. "But we'll see how it all pans out."

Durant scored 22 points and added five rebounds in 32 minutes before leaving the game.

The two-time NBA Finals MVP has been fantastic so far this postseason, averaging 34.2 points while shooting 51.3 per cent from the field and 41.6 per cent from three-point range in the playoffs.

NBA champions the Golden State Warriors moved ahead in their Western Conference semi-final against the Houston Rockets, while the Milwaukee Bucks ousted the Boston Celtics.

At Oracle Arena in California, the Warriors defeated the Rockets 104-99 to claim a 3-2 lead in the playoff series on Wednesday.

Klay Thompson had 27 points, while Stephen Curry added 25 of his own for the Warriors.

Warriors star Kevin Durant left in the fourth quarter with a right calf strain and did not return. It is unclear what his status will be for Game 6.

As for Draymond Green's antics, he was called for a technical foul for kneeing Chris Paul after drawing an offensive foul.

Green would later foul out of the game after playing very well, especially in the early going on home court after collecting 12 rebounds and 11 assists.

Game 6 is set to be played in Houston on Friday – the Rockets facing elimination.

Boston fell to Milwaukee 116-91 to lose their Eastern Conference semi-final series in five games.

The Bucks won the final four games of the series by an average of 16.3 points, sealing a 4-1 triumph as Milwaukee await the winner of the Toronto Raptors-Philadelphia 76ers matchup.

Giannis Antetokounmpo tallied 20 points, eight rebounds and eight assists for the Bucks, who reached the Conference finals for the first time since 2001.

 

Bledsoe helps Bucks

Bucks guard Eric Bledsoe had 18 points, six rebounds and two assists in the win.

James Harden had 31 points, eight assists and four steals as the Rockets lost on the road.

 

Irving headlines Boston's woes

Kyrie Irving led the Celtics with 15 points but his shooting woes continued as he went six of 21 from the floor and one of seven from three-point range.

Austin Rivers did not give the Rockets a lot of help off the bench, going one-of-six shooting and 0 for four from beyond the arc.

 

Giannis with the slam!

The Greek star showcased his MVP credentials again as the Bucks progressed in the postseason.

 

Nuggets at Trail Blazers

In a series where every game but the last one has been good, the Portland Trail Blazers once again have a chance to play on their home court. Portland are fantastic at home and have a chance to extend the series to seven games with victory against the Denver Nuggets.

Kevin Durant left the Golden State Warriors' Game 5 matchup against the Houston Rockets on Wednesday with a calf injury.

The 30-year-old star appeared to suffer the injury late in the third quarter after attempting a mid-range jump shot.

He landed awkwardly, without any contact, and then reached for his lower leg.

Durant limped off the court and back to the locker room. He scored 22 points and added five rebounds in 32 minutes before exiting.

The Warriors later announced Durant would not return due to a right calf strain.

Durant has been fantastic so far this postseason. He entered Wednesday averaging 35.4 points while shooting 51.8 per cent from the field and 42.9 per cent from three-point range in the playoffs.

Golden State and Houston went into the matchup tied at 2-2 in their second-round series.

Patrick Beverley has been impressed by Golden State Warriors star Kevin Durant.

Beverley spent large stretches of time guarding Durant during the Los Angeles Clippers' opening-round matchup with the Warriors, a series Golden State ultimately ended up winning in six games.

Durant has had an impressive postseason run and Beverley praised him during an interview with NBA TV on Monday.

"I've guarded a lot of people," Beverley said. "I went home and I told my friends, 'He is the best player in the NBA hands down. It's not even close.'"

The pair had a few notable exchanges in the playoffs, including a verbal altercation in Game 1 which led to both of their ejections.

Durant tallied 33 or more points in each of the final four games of the Warriors' first-round series. In total, he has averaged 35.6 points in the playoffs.

"He saw something and he went at it every single time," Beverley said. "That's a killer mindset."

Warriors coach Steve Kerr said late last month Durant's play has "been off the charts".

The Warriors will face the Houston Rockets in Game 4 of their second-round series on Monday. They enter the matchup with a 2-1 series lead.

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