Kevin Durant Out with Freak Injury, Phoenix Suns See Futures Dip
Phoenix Suns power forward Kevin Durant sustained an unfortunate injury during warmups on Wednesday night, and he could miss the remainder of the regular season with a left sprained ankle.
The Suns acquired Durant in a blockbuster trade prior to the trade deadline in early February. Durant appeared in only three games with the Suns, but all three were on the road. He was still recovering from a sprained knee when the Nets traded him to the Suns.
Durant was set to make his home debut in Phoenix on Wednesday night. He never made it because he rolled his left ankle after he slipped on the court at the Footprint Center.
Even without Durant in the lineup, the Suns defeated the Oklahoma City Thunder in a 32-point blowout. The Suns won four games in a row and improved to 37-27 on the season.
I know how much KD loves to play and wanted to play,” said teammate Chris Paul. “But stuff happens.”
When he exited the arena after the game, Durant was spotted wearing a walking boot.
On Thursday morning, Durant underwent an MRI which did not reveal any significant damage. He was diagnosed with a sprained ankle. The Suns said Durant would miss three weeks with the latest injury.
“He’s in good spirits,” added Devin Booker. ” The rehab process starts now.”
The Suns are 3-0 with Durant in the lineup. So far with the Suns, Durant averages 26.7 points, 7.3 rebounds, 3.7 assists, and 1.3 blocks per game.
Here’s video of Kevin Durant slipping on the floor pregame.
He stayed down for a few seconds but then got up and finished his on-court work. pic.twitter.com/DwTrNc6LIr
— Kellan Olson (@KellanOlson) March 9, 2023
Can the Suns Hold On to the #4 Seed?
The Denver Nuggets (46-20) are close to locking up the #1 playoff seed in the Western Conference. They opened a seven-game lead over the Sacramento Kings (38-26) and Memphis Grizzlies (38-26), who are battling for the #2 seed. The Suns (37-29) are in fourth place, yet nine games behind the Nuggets.
The Suns moved within two games of the Kings and Grizzlies, and they were within striking distance of the #2 seed. It’s doubtful the Suns can continue that ambitious pursuit and move up two spots in the standings without Durant.
The middle of the Western Conference standings is clogged with nine teams that are within three games of each other. With Durant sidelined for multiple weeks, the Suns could be in jeopardy of losing the #4 seed because the nine-team cluster is only three games behind them.
The Suns have 16 games left in the regular season, but they face the second-hardest remaining schedule. Their opponents have a .533 winning percentage with two more games against the Nuggets, and two more games against the Kings.
The Suns could keep Durant out for the rest of the regular season in order to preserve his health for the playoffs. The Suns have three more weeks to make that decision, which depends on how Durant responds to rest and treatment.
Durant Injury Ripples Through the Futures Market
The Suns saw a huge bump in championship odds when they acquired Durant at the trade deadline. Their futures to win the 2022-23 NBA championship jumped overnight from +1800 odds to +450 at DraftKings. They went from the ninth favorite on the board to second overall.
Prior to Durant’s injury, the Suns’ championship odds shrunk to as low as +370. The Boston Celtics were the only team with better title odds at +330.
On Thursday, DraftKings updated the futures board after the Suns made the announcement about Durant’s health status. The Celtics are still the betting favorite, but they improved to +300 odds to win the championship. The Suns slipped to third overall at +450 odds, and the Milwaukee Bucks jumped to second overall at +400 odds.
The Suns are still the favorite to win the Western Conference, but their odds dipped from +200 to +230. Meanwhile, the Nuggets saw a slight improvement from +310 to +280 to win the west and advance to the NBA Finals for the first time in their franchise’s history.
Th Sacramento Kings are the surprise team in the NBA this season after rmissing the playoffs for 16 years in a row. The Kings currently sit in first place in the Pacific Division with a two-game lead over the Suns in second place.
The Pacific Division odds were not affected by the Durant injury. The Kings are the favorite to win the Pacific Division at -125 odds, and the Suns are second on the board at +120 odds.
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