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Warriors' DeMarcus Cousins could determine outcome of NBA Finals — for better or worse | Sporting News

The Warriors need everything DeMarcus Cousins brings for the rest of the 2019 NBA Finals.

Even if it’s a volatile mix of attitude, minutes, buckets, rebounds, fouls and controversial plays, the Warriors will take what they can get here. With Kevin Durant out, Golden State needs Cousins to be the complementary piece to a core that has delivered three NBA championships in the last four seasons.

MORE: Warriors players call out Raptors fans for “bulls-” behavior

Cousins quickly made headlines after Golden State’s Game 5 victory for his comments about the smattering of fans who cheered when Durant went down with an Achilles injury. Cousins had a pointed response.

“F- them.”

Cousins doubled down and labeled the fans “trash.”

“We’re only idolized as superstar athletes, not human beings,” he said. “It’s always about what we can do between those lines.”

Most people stop reading after the F-bomb, but the back half of Cousins’ comments have more value. His attitude has been dissected throughout his career. If anybody could come close to the criticism Durant faces – and it’s still not close – then that player would be Cousins.

Maybe that’s why Cousins responded the way he did between the lines in the aftermath of Durant’s injury. Cousins checked in with just under 10 minutes remaining in the second quarter after Durant was helped off the floor. He scored seven straight points with a pair of layups and a 3-pointer and grabbed two rebounds. That burst allowed Golden State to build a 46-35 lead it held until the 5:13 mark of the fourth quarter.

Cousins’ contribution to the game was crucial considering he’s missed most of the playoffs with a quad injury. He played for nearly 20 minutes and finished with 14 points (6-of-8 shooting) and six rebounds. In Golden State’s two wins, he has averaged 12.5 points and 8.0 rebounds. In the three losses, he is down at 4.3 points and 2.3 rebounds.

Cousins is a 20-10 player for his career, but it’s unrealistic to expect that kind of production now. If he can be close to a double-double guy and play a little more than 20 minutes per game, then the Warriors will have a chance to be the second team to come back from a 3-1 deficit.

With Cousins, you never know. He was involved in three key plays in the final two minutes. Cousins was called for offensive goaltending on a Stephen Curry miss with 1:59 that could have gone either way. He also triggered a defensive goaltending call on Kyle Lowry (it was) and got caught on an illegal screen (it was) that set up Toronto for a potential game-winning shot.

Chances are Golden State will need Cousins on the floor in these same critical situations in Game 6.

That’s the chance they will have to take, and it circles back to those comments.

“F- them.”

Cousins is talking about Toronto fans, but it might as well be everybody who wants the Warriors’ reign at the top of the NBA to end. For those who thought this series was over when Durant went down, Golden State had something to say about that. Cousins had even more to say afterward.

This is exactly the kind of against-the-world attitude Golden State needs to have for the rest of the series without Durant and perhaps Kevon Looney, who exited Game 5 with a chest injury. Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala are not used to trailing in a series, but they typically respond well when facing playoff deficits.

The “Splash Brothers” will splash, and Green and Iggy know their roles on both sides of the ball. They need Cousins to be the X-factor in Game 6 on Thursday.

With one more victory, Golden State could put the pressure back on a Toronto franchise that missed the first of three chances to close the door.

Who would you take in a Game 7? The home team or the defending champions?

If Cousins is that missing piece in Game 6, then we already know our answer.

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