June 22, 2024

Without Stephen Curry, Golden State has little room for error in playoff chase

Without Stephen Curry, Golden State has little room for error in playoff chase
AP Photo/Jeff Chiu

The Golden State Warriors will have to step up their game if they want to be assured of a playoff spot in the absence of Stephen Curry.

The All-Star guard suffered injuries to his left leg, the team announced on Monday. An MRI confirmed Curry suffered partial tears to his superior tibiofibular ligament and interosseous membrane in his left leg, along with a lower leg contusion.

"I didn't know those ligaments existed," Warriors coach Steve Kerr said in an Associated Press report. "We’re going to reevaluate in a few days. And the good news is, he’s going to be back. We don’t exactly know when but it’s not an injury that’s going to keep him out for the season. He’s going to come back this season and hopefully sooner rather than later."

Curry had appeared to bang knees with McKinley Wright IV in the third quarter of their game against the Dallas Mavericks. He did not return, but the Warriors managed to weather the storm, 119-113.

He will not be playing on Tuesday against the Oklahoma City Thunder, and very likely miss the games against the Portland Trail Blazers, the Los Angeles Lakers, the Washington Wizards, and the Los Angeles Clippers heading to the All-Star break. Curry would very well likely miss that too.

In that event, NBA commissioner Adam Silver would have to select a replacement for the February 20 All-Star Game. But it won't be as easy for the Warriors to pick up the slack.

Before he exited the game against the Mavericks, Curry contributed 21 points in 26 minutes to what was then a 98-78 lead. When the two-time MVP left the court, the Warriors were outscored, 35-21.

Curry has been averaging 29.4 points per game this season, along with 6.3 rebounds and 6.4 assists.

This is not the first time Curry had a considerable break due to injuries.

When he missed 11 games from December to January due to a left shoulder issue, the Warriors went 6-5. Golden State is now eighth in the Western Conference with a 27-26 record, going 6-4 in their last 10 games. The Minnesota Timberwolves are just above them at 29-27, while the New Orleans Pelicans are at their tail with 28-27.

Playoff projections have the Warriors unlikely to nab any of the top three spots in the West, but they still have a shot at the fourth to eighth slots.

Analytics website FiveThirtyEight estimates the Warriors would still have a 73% chance of making the playoffs with a projected 43-39 record, but only four percent of winning the NBA Finals.

Draymond Green though is optimistic for his teammate's return.

"He's the heart of the team," Green said. "We definitely don't need him to be injured going into the second half (of the season). But he said he's good."