Due to the brilliance of Russell Westbrook, the Oklahoma City Thunder enter the second leg of a home-and-home versus the New Orleans Pelicans with a chance for key consecutive victories. Accomplishing that feat should be just a bit easier with the reigning MVP back in the lineup, too. After missing four of his team’s past five games with a sprained toe, Kevin Durant is expected to play in the Thunder’s rematch with the Pelicans on Friday.
Durant originally suffered this latest injury in a loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers on January 25. He returned to the court after two games to face the Memphis Grizzlies a few days later, but re-aggravated his sprain and subsequently missed Oklahoma City’s past two contests.
It’s been a season of maladies for the 25 year-old, who began 2014-2015 sidelined after surgery for a broken right foot and sprained the same ankle shortly after making a recovery. Though a toe injury seems minor in comparison, Durant told reporters that it was “by far” his most painful setback. He admitted to coming back too soon against the Grizzles, too.
Via Anthony Slater of The Oklahoman:
Q: Was it an injury you’ve ever felt before? Or kind of a new painful feeling?
Kevin Durant: It was by far the worst one I’ve had. My foot I didn’t feel anything until I had surgery. My ankle didn’t feel as bad as this toe. It was tough. Such a small part of your body can affect the whole body. It was definitely tough and I had to be mentally strong to get through it. I wanted to play so bad. We were struggling a little bit. But I’m glad I’m back and can help out.
Q: You tried to push through it in the Memphis game and had a setback. Do you feel like now coming back you’re ready to play for good moving forward?
KD: Yeah. I feel like it’s better now. I can push through it. Injuries like that, I’ve been out for so long this year as far as injuries are concerned, so I pushed it when I shouldn’t have. That’s part of the game sometimes, you’re still learning your body and trying to figure out the best way to do it and put myself first. Definitely been a tough year as far as injuries for me. But I’m glad I have the opportunity to play again and it’s nothing too serious.
Let’s hope Durant’s unlucky run of health has passed. Not only is the league is a far better place when he’s playing in it, but the Thunder need him to make a late-season push for the playoffs.
25-24 Oklahoma City and 26-23 New Orleans tip-off at 8:00 EST from Chesapeake Energy Arena.
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