A once-promising season has turned into an injury-plagued campaign for the Golden State Warriors. The injury bug bit Golden State again Wednesday night in their 110-88 loss to Boston, when Steph Curry went down in the second quarter on a questionable play involving the Celtics’ Marcus Smart. Curry has been ruled out of action indefinitely with a sprained ligament in his left foot.
Whether that’s a “dirty” play or not, I’ll leave that for you to decide. But anyone who played basketball growing up from an early age should remember running loose ball drills. Marcus Smart did exactly what he’s been taught to do. I get how it looks after a million slow-motion instant replays, but it doesn’t seem Smart’s intent was to injure Curry. I know Warriors fans will argue this, and that’s fine. Hustle plays like that are how non-stars stay in the NBA for nearly a decade like Smart. After the game, Curry’s own teammate, Draymond Green, couldn’t even call it a dirty play. The injury is unfortunate but not a dirty play.
But here we are now, and the Warriors are nine games out of first place in the Western Conference, and one game behind Memphis for second with 12 games remaining. Green just returned this week from a nagging back injury after missing two months. And around the same time that Green got hurt, Klay Thompson came back after being gone from the sport for two years. Plus, big man James Wiseman still hasn’t returned to the roster after tearing his meniscus last April.
The Warriors felt like they were just hanging on in hopes of getting healthy by playoff time. When Draymond stepped back onto the court Monday, that seemed possible. Their Big 3 was back in full effect, and that glimmer of hope had seemingly been restored. But with Curry out indefinitely, things could get scary for the Warriors. I know they looked horrible at times without Green on the floor, but Steph is still Golden State’s best player.
It isn’t always about what Curry does with the ball in his hands. Just his presence on the court opens things up for everyone else offensively. Even when Steph experiences poor shooting nights (which have been more often this year), he’s such a threat to heat up at a moment’s notice that teams still need to pay close attention to him. Whenever Curry sees a couple of 3s in a row go in, you’re probably in trouble the rest of the night.
If the postseason started today, Golden State would draw Denver in the first round. That wouldn’t be an easy series at full strength for the Warriors. Without their best player, it will undoubtedly be an uphill battle. I believe the Warriors are deep enough with Draymond back out there alongside Klay, Jordan Poole, and Andrew Wiggins to get past the Nuggets. If Curry is out any longer than the first round, should the Warriors advance, it’d be a crapshoot. Although he’s struggled this year, Golden State isn’t making a deep postseason run without Steph.
Golden State will need all their weapons firing in this year’s Western Conference playoffs. Foot injuries can take some time to heal, and Curry knows plenty about that, having dealt with multiple ankle injuries during his career. Hopefully, this injury doesn’t keep him out for more than a couple of weeks.