TORONTO — After his first run up and down the court docket in additional than six weeks, DeMarcus Cousins bent over because the Raptors shot free throws, his arms pressed in opposition to his knees.
Understandably, Cousins didn’t appear to have a full tank of gasoline in Sport 1 of the NBA Finals, his first motion since tearing his left quad early in Sport 2 of the primary spherical in opposition to the Clippers.
Thursday night time, if something, was about Cousins merely returning to the court docket, giving the Warriors no matter he may after rehabbing a perceived season-ending damage in mid-April and fulfilling his dream of enjoying on basketball’s highest stage after watching the playoffs from afar in every of his first eight NBA seasons.
Cousins performed solely eight minutes and 4 seconds, scoring three factors on the foul line, choosing up two assists and two steals, and committing an offensive foul within the Warriors’ 118-109 loss to the Raptors within the first Sport 1 Finals lack of the Steve Kerr period. However Kerr preferred what he noticed from Cousins, and an ever-changing Warriors heart rotation would possibly provide Cousins extra alternatives because the Finals progress.
“I believed DeMarcus did a very nice job, made some nice passes. We may run some offense via him,” Kerr mentioned. “It’s so early within the course of for him. He performed eight minutes and I believed his minutes have been good, however it’s an enormous adjustment to play after a six-week, seven-week absence, particularly at this degree within the NBA Finals in opposition to a staff that’s fairly quick already.”
Cousins first checked in to start out the second quarter, opening his Finals debut with a crisp backdoor move to Klay Thompson for a simple two-handed dunk. The move foreshadowed what grew to become the strongest a part of Cousins’ eight minutes Thursday night time, his passing, even thought some spectacular seems to be didn’t finish in Warriors makes. Just one different Cousins move resulted in a Warriors bucket, however it was a reasonably feed, a slick cross-court look to Jonas Jerebko for a nook 3.
A timeout granted Cousins a breather early within the second quarter, however out of the timeout he resorted to arms on knees once more. Even so, his first two factors got here on the foul line shortly after the break, his solely dent on the scoreboard after his first stint. He missed a 19-foot soar shot and a 3-pointer, each photographs that might’ve reduce the Warriors’ deficit to 1 basket. Cousins’ first shift lasted solely 4 minutes and 20 seconds, his solely run of the primary three quarters, Kerr clearly throwing his All-Star massive man into motion with excessive warning.
“It felt good. It felt good to be a part of that power tonight,” Cousins mentioned. “I’ve mentioned it earlier than and I’ll say it once more: I don’t take any of those moments as a right.”
Cousins insisted he didn’t expertise soreness or tweaks upon his return to recreation motion, even when it appeared he was laboring at factors.
Peak exhaustion appeared to come back early within the fourth quarter towards the top of Cousins’ second and remaining stint of the sport. He scored a degree on the foul line once more after posting up Kyle Lowry on the fastbreak and drawing a foul, however the tank now appeared near empty.
First Cousins plowed over Lowry driving baseline for a cost, then hacked Serge Ibaka to forestall a layup after he was late recovering from the highest of the important thing. Kevon Looney changed Cousins after Ibaka’s first foul shot, the massive man’s night time capped at simply over eight minutes, a mediocre exhibiting however a exhibiting, nonetheless.
“I believed he did very well and we’ll take a look at the tape,” Kerr mentioned. “We’ll see what we determine to do together with his position going ahead.”
The Warriors’ heart rotation regarded barely totally different once more Thursday with Jordan Bell incomes his second profession postseason begin and Andrew Bogut logging a DNP. Bell performed 11:37 and Looney 28:20, with Damian Jones sitting the entire recreation on the bench and Cousins returning to the rotation.
Looney will shoulder the overwhelming majority of heart minutes all Finals, however that’s about the one positive factor with Golden State’s facilities.
Cousins’ workload isn’t set in stone, however extra seemingly than not it’ll resemble what he took on Thursday night time. Whereas he’d like to have a full three collection beneath his belt by now, beginning every recreation and enjoying sizable minutes because the Warriors attempt for a three-peat, Cousins can solely profit from the time he’s given.
“Simply are available in and play the appropriate means. That’s what I attempt to do each time I step on the ground,” Cousins mentioned. ” … To be on the market on the ground tonight on this ambiance was an unimaginable feeling. I’m extraordinarily glad to be part of it and I loved the second.”