As expected, Kevin Durant will make his return from a knee injury Saturday against the New Orleans Pelicans. The former MVP has been officially cleared for full practice and will play return to Golden State’s starting lineup on Saturday.

Durant has missed the last 19 games for the Golden State Warriors after teammate Zaza Pachulia fell on his knee, and he hyperextended it and suffered a Grade 2 MCL sprain. For the last couple of weeks, Durant has been participating in light practices and his return has finally been confirmed

Without Durant

Although the Warriors struggled the first six games without Durant, they are currently riding a 13-game winning streak.

It took the Warriors quite some time to adjust without their highly-prized free agent acquisition.

During Durant’s absence, the team acquired veteran forward Matt Barnes to help cover some of the void. Andre Iguodala has been a major component behind the team’s recent success without Durant, and Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson have also become more aggressive. The Warriors clinched the Western Conference Wednesday night with a win over the Phoenix Suns so it’s safe to say that they’ve done well even without Durant.

Preparing for the playoffs

Now that Durant’s return has been confirmed, the Warriors can prepare for the playoffs. They have by far looked like the best team in the NBA and will enter the playoffs on a high note.

With Durant in the lineup, the Warriors were outscoring opponents at a record pace of plus-12.5 points per game, which shows their dominance over the rest of the league.

Who can challenge the Warriors?

With home-court advantage clinched throughout the playoffs, who can seriously challenge the Warriors?

The San Antonio Spurs, who own the second best record in the league, have the best chance and will probably face the Warriors in the Conference Finals, but it seems like they don’t have enough offensive firepower to be able to defeat them. The Warriors most recently proved that they are more superior by beating San Antonio on their home floor on the second night of a back to back.

The Cleveland Cavaliers have had their own issues, but will probably meet the Warriors in the Finals again. However, Cleveland must correct its defensive woes if they want to put up a legitimate fight against Golden State. Cleveland may be ranked third in offensive efficiency, but they are ranked 21st in defensive efficiency, which is highly troubling.

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