The basketball world was at a standstill as Stephen Curry suffered a right knee sprain during Game 4 of the Warriors-Rockets series when he fell to the floor. The shock continued after the subsequent report of the reigning MVP possibly missing two weeks. Fast forward to a week later, and Curry feels very optimistic about a fast return as he is rehabbing three times a day. Additionally, the Golden State Warriors sans Curry have basically annihilated their opponents, which included winning in the first round against the Rockets and a 106-118 win over thePortland Trailblazers on Sunday. However, there is still some debate about the defending champions reclaiming their throne with Stephen Curry. I asked some of our writers on their perspective about Curry’s injury and how it has modified their playoff picture.
Derek Tahara, Spark Sports Golden State Warriors Writer: It is going to be obviously tough for them to play without Steph. His presence on the floor alone makes him a threat, drawing double teams, and allowing Draymond Green to be the decision-maker out of the double, playing 4-on-3. After getting past the Rockets, the second round presents a little bit more of a challenge. The Blazers have one of the most dynamic back courts in the league in Lillard and McCollum, but also have key role players in Al-Faruq Aminu and Mason Plumlee as well. The Blazers are a young and hungry team and do not know any better and can be a tough matchup for the Warriors with their backcourt scoring. It has been reported by multiple sources that Stephen Curry could miss as many as three games and could possibly be back for Game 3 or 4 of the second round if his body responds well and the medical tests go well too. Now, if the Warriors played the way they have played without Stephen Curry, then they should be fine. I would not count the Warriors out in the title chase because if Stephen Curry does come back at full strength and healthy, it could be a “Willis Reed” moment and could possibly win the NBA title. What a story that would be! It will be a tough road without the MVP, but there’s a reason that the Warriors’ slogan is “Strength In Numbers” and the Curry-less Warriors show us why.
Irving Mejia, Spark Sports NBA & NFL Analyst: So I think it’s pretty clear to everyone that Steph Curry is the best shooter in the NBA right now, an injury for him obviously doesn’t help Golden State. But does it hurt them so badly to the point where they’re no longer Western Conference Finals bound?
No, absolutely not.
Shaun Livingston has proven time and time again to be a capable scorer inside and from the baseline for Golden State, and he’s a decent enough defender to guard Damian Lillard. He is capable of taking over for Curry for a couple of games.
Steph Curry going out certainly doesn’t help the Warriors chances to win the title but Shaun Livingston can hold the fort together while Steph Curry recovers.
I don’t think anybody should be worried about Shaun Livingston stepping in, he could be a decent starter on almost any NBA team right now if he really wanted to be one.
What does worry me is a horrible idea in the back of my mind.
What if Steph Curry comes back and isn’t the same?
Last year in the playoffs, we saw him become cold as ice and he seemed to be healthy then, what if he’s not at 100% when he returns?
The answer is simple, San Antonio will become the favorite to win the Western Conference Finals.
The Spurs and Warriors aren’t really all that separated as far as overall talent goes if Steph isn’t on the court and if Steph Curry isn’t playing his absolute best basketball against the Spurs, they cannot win.
Now, I’m not undermining Curry, but if a superstar caliber player like him isn’t at his best against arguably the best team in the NBA, I don’t give them much of a fighting chance against a loaded roster such as the Spurs.
The Spurs as a whole just have more playoff experience and can go deeper into their bench. Golden State is a great team, but what separates them from being a great team and a historically great team?
But I’ll be honest, if Steph Curry returns if they make the Western Conference Finals, and if he plays like he has all season, Golden State will have absolutely no problem defending their throne as NBA champions.
Justin Golba, Spark Sports NCAA Analyst: The Steph Curry injury is obviously something that can seriously alter the look of the western conference playoffs and for the finals. After his injury in game 4, the Warriors destroyed the Houston Rockets in the second half to jump to 3-1 in the series, and then took that momentum and cruised to a 114-81 victory in game 5 to win the series and eliminate the Rockets. So far, they have not missed a beat in terms of play and team chemistry, but they have a much tougher test in the coming games against the Trail Blazers as they try to keep up the same level of play.
I personally believe the Warriors will be fine and win in 5 games, but the timetable for Steph Curry’s return is around May 9th right now so if that gets pushed back, they may have to deal with the Spurs without Curry and that would be a horrible mismatch. The Spurs will eat the Warriors alive if they do not have Curry so it all depends on when he is healthy and back on the court.
Shawn Valdrighi, Spark Sports Editor and Analyst: The Warriors are in an interesting predicament with Steph recovering from his right knee injury. While the Warriors took care of business against the Rockets in five games (one game longer than if Steph was on the floor most likely), the Blazers pose a different challenge, even if that didn’t look like the case during Sunday night’s drubbing at Oracle. The Rockets were an organization in free fall who probably just as easily would have taken a bye if it meant an earlier start on resolving their locker room chaos. Portland, on the other hand, is coming off a tough seven game series against the Clippers, but Lillard and McCollum have been playing excellent. However, I still trust the Warriors making it past the Blazers in either five or six games, regardless of if Steph returns. In fact, if Klay keeps up this play and the Blazers don’t force a game seven, I’d be in favor of Curry sitting this whole series in prep for San Antonio. Because if Curry isn’t available against the Spurs, Golden State becomes the greatest 73 win championship to lose in the Western Conference Finals.
DeAsia Paige, Spark Sports NBA Analyst: I believe that Curry’s injury might prevent the Warriors from claiming their throne this season; however, the Warriors sans Curry have played tremendously. Shaun Livingston has done a great job of stepping up to the plate, making crucial plays. Klay Thompson and Draymond Green combined for 60 points, 18 rebounds, 16 assists, 3 blocks, and 3 steals in the Warriors’ Game victory at home on Sunday night. That alone speaks to the power of the Warriors’ team and why they are the best in the NBA. However, it is unclear as to whether the team will make it to the Finals. They would have to get through the San Antonio Spurs first, and they need Curry to help them win that series. Spurs’ defense is overwhelming, especially when they are at home. As for this series against the Trailblazers, there is a challenge with the backcourt of Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum. But I think that the Warriors will be able to win the series.
Spark Sports NBA Analyst