In the third quarter of Friday night’s Hawks-Warriors tilt in Oakland, JaVale McGee challenged a Mike Muscala shot at the rim and crashed to the floor. McGee’s momentum carried him directly into the lower legs of Steph Curry, who’d helped down into the paint on the play.
Goddammit. The Hawks game was Steph’s first significant burn in an NBA game in 17 days, after he suffered a right ankle sprain just two minutes into a March 8 game against the Spurs. The Warriors have been running out unrecognizable lineups while virtually every player of consequence on their roster deals with injuries. Steph’s return was right on time, and his performance, to that point, had been just swell: 29 points on 18 shots, as the one Warriors All-Star healthy enough to play.
Much was made headed into the game of Steph’s choice to wear low-top Under Armour signature shoes upon his return from like his thousandth ankle injury of the season. Steph’s ankles are notoriously cranky and vulnerable, and low-tops would not seem to provide the support necessary to keep them from folding up under him like the flimsy balsa wood constructs they so obviously are. In a sign of the malevolent sense of humor of the universe in the year 2018, his stability and agility and balance looked great, right up until his own teammate smacked into his knee like a damn torpedo.
The Warriors are great, and their three best non-Steph players are probably good enough without him to make for one of the NBA’s better teams, but Steph is still maybe the most unsolvable offensive problem in all of basketball, and a knee injury that doesn’t heal fully until, say, late May or early June could conceivably spell the doom of a Warriors championship run. It was a sprained knee suffered during the 2016 playoffs that had Steph playing at less than full strength in the Finals, as the Cavs came back from a 3-1 deficit. The timing on this is maybe better? Or, anyway, it sure fucking sucks.