The Golden State Warriors are not expected to have reserve forward Otto Porter Jr. in the lineup for Game 5 of the Western Conference finals against the Dallas Mavericks on Thursday night, per Yahoo Sports. Porter has been sidelined since Game 3 of this series, after sustaining a foot injury in the second quarter of that matchup.
Porter was seen grimacing in pain after going up for a basket early in the second quarter of Game 3. He stayed in the game for a few possessions before asking to come out of the game. He then immediately walked back to the locker room and was ruled out for the remainder of the game early in the second half.
Porter had x-rays on his foot during the game, which came back negative, and Warriors head coach Steve Kerr initially said after the game that the injury was “definitely concerning.” However, prior to Game 4, Porter was listed as questionable before ultimately being ruled out as Golden State took the cautious approach with his injury.
“He’s still sore,” Kerr said during shootaround on Tuesday. “We have to make the wise decision here. This gives him a couple of days to prepare for a possible Game 5, and we just don’t want to take a chance in terms of harming his future availability.”
It sounds as though even with the additional days of rest, Porter still isn’t in a good enough position to take the court again. While that isn’t entirely alarming in the short term, as the Warriors still hold a 3-1 lead against a Mavericks team that they can close out on their home floor Thursday evening, looking ahead to the NBA Finals, it does warrant some concern.
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Through the first two games of the conference finals, Porter was averaging 10.5 points, 6.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists while shooting an absurd 81.8 percent from the field and 50 percent from 3-point range. His efficiency is one of the many reasons the Warriors were so dominant in the first two games of this series, and his defense has also been crucial to frustrating the Mavericks.
Although the Warriors may not need Porter for Game 5, if his injury stretches into the NBA Finals it will be detrimental to Golden State’s depth. The Warriors gave a bulk of Porter’s minutes to rookie Jonathan Kuminga in Game 4, who finished with 17 points and eight rebounds. It’s not the first time this postseason that Kuminga has excelled in the role he’s been given, as he had two games against the Memphis Grizzlies where he put up over 15 points while starting. He’s shown flashes of being a capable defender and he’s made significant improvements on offense, primarily moving without the ball and setting screens for Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry. But it may be risky to assume that he’ll be able to perform the same way on the biggest stage in the NBA Finals. But if Porter’s foot injury lingers longer than expected, the Warriors will have no choice but to see if Kuminga can play at that level.