Kevin Durant returns to practice, will start Saturday

On a rainy afternoon in downtown Oakland, the mood inside the Warriors’ practice facility shined warm and bright.

After 38 days of rest and rehab, starting small forward Kevin Durant returned to Warriors practice on Friday morning, his first full unrestricted practice since sustaining a left knee injury that sidelined him for more than a month.

On his return to practice, Durant said:

“Today was one of those days where I went out there and played and practiced with the guys and I felt normal. So, you know, I’ve been waiting on that feeling for a couple of weeks now.”

Over the past month, Durant has progressed through team protocols in hopes of returning before the end of the regular season. And his return to practice leaves that door wide open.

The officially report is that Durant will start against the New Orleans Pelicans on Saturday night at Oracle Arena. It will be one of the three remaining regular season games in which Durant will attempt to shake off any rust he’s accumulated during his time away from the court.

In regards to Durant re-entering the starting rotation on Saturday night, Kerr said:

“That’s the plan, that’s the plan. … I mean he’s got through practice with no problems, so we plan on playing him tomorrow night.”

The goal is to get Durant back to his normal form before the playoffs begin a week from Saturday. Having three games to do so looks to be the perfect scenario, as the Warriors have already secured the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference.

Kerr said:

“It’s perfect for (Durant), you know, to get three games before the playoffs start to get his conditioning, his timing, his rhythm.”

Also, for a team that has seemingly flourished in the absence of Durant, the return of an additional 25.3 points per game is music to their ears. Kerr said:

“Kevin is Kevin. … I think he can just fall out of bed and get 20 points.”

Kerr said he has no plant to restrict Durant’s minutes. Rather, the team will monitor and limit his playing time based on how he feels out on the floor.

Another update worth noting is that Stephen Curry has been listed as doubtful for Saturday night against the Pelicans with a left knee contusion. This could provide Durant with extra minutes due to having one less player in rotation.