What the NBA Playoffs Would Look Like Without Kevin Durant
The Golden State Warriors have been entrenched as NBA Championship favorites for so long that it feels like any time some wrinkle gets thrown in that would disrupt normalcy, it's time to overreact.
We got (more of) that on Wednesday night in an unfortunate way. The Warriors had already lost center DeMarcus Cousins for the playoffs, and now Kevin Durant is expected to miss an undisclosed amount of time with an injury of his own. Estimates range from two to six weeks. We do know he's out for Game 6 at least, per head coach Steve Kerr.
What if he can't return? How would the odds shift?
Let's check out each team's win odds in that scenario, relying on our nERD metric and our algorithm's projections after ten thousand simulations -- with and without KD.
|Championship Odds||nERD||With Durant||Without Durant|
|Golden State Warriors||68.6||47.6%||36.0%|
|Portland Trail Blazers||58.9||1.8%||2.6%|
Okay. Okay, now. Now we're talking. The Milwaukee Bucks have already secured a spot in the Eastern Conference Finals with a dominant performance against the Boston Celtics. Their odds sans-Durant would jump up to 34.1%, nearly on par with Golden State's. At +270 on FanDuel Sportsbook, that provides a lot of leverage. Those odds imply around a 25% chance to win, and they'd be around nine full percentage points higher than that probability if Durant doesn't return.
Of course, Durant may not miss the rest of the season, and the Warriors still are the odds-on favorite. Our algorithm projects a Houston Rockets win around 57% of the time in Game 6, though, and anything can happen in Game 7 with a team that shoots as well as Houston.
Even if Durant isn't ruled out the rest of the way, the final month of the NBA season could get wild.