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Priorities have a way of changing quickly when everything’s on the line.
One moment the Golden State Warriors were sharing their grandiose plans for the home stretch of the regular season, floating the idea that they might finish with a 24-game winning streak and thus remind the NBA masses that the Larry O’Brien trophy still resides here. Then three games later, when Steph Curry went down with yet another ankle sprain just two minutes into Thursday night’s 110-107 win against the San Antonio Spurs at Oracle Arena, it was time to reassess.
The No. 1 seed that’s in peril with the streaking Houston Rockets up one in the loss column and, in essence, up two because they hold the tiebreaker? It’s not nearly as important as Curry getting fully healthy again in time for the playoffs.
Especially considering the context.
Just when you thought the flashbacks to Curry’s ankle problems were over, the two-time MVP finds himself facing some of those old nightmares again. This was the fourth right ankle injury for Curry since Dec. 4, when he suffered a sprain against New Orleans and was sidelined for nearly a month.
Then came the Jan. 10 re-sprain, a minor tweak that only cost him two games but raised concerns because, well, it came during a team shoot-around. It happened again on March 2 against Atlanta, although Curry recovered quickly and even helped the Warriors finish off the Hawks that very same night. Lest anyone forgot, this is the same right ankle that required two surgeries to get right back in April of 2011 and May of 2012 en route to his rise.
But the Warriors (51-14) certainly remember, and so now the question of how they handle this from here will be front and center. Curry will skip Friday’s trip to Portland and will also be out for Sunday’s game in Minnesota.
The fact that Curry wanted to go back in against the Spurs is as good a sign as any that it’s not serious, but the return of this troubling trend is more than enough to justify the Warriors’ cautious approach.
“He said (this ankle turn) was a little bit like the Atlanta one,” Kerr said. “He wanted to lobby to come back in the game, but we wouldn’t let him … We’ve got to be careful with it.”
Curry has long since learned that he doesn’t have the final say when it comes to these matters of health. Kerr leans on team trainer Chelsea Lane to come to a verdict, with the greater good always mattering most of all.
“It’s not that hard (to tell him he can’t come back), actually,” Kerr said with a smile. “Chelsea and I have a much better view of the big picture than Steph does. Of course he wants to go back in the game, but it’s a pretty simple decision, so we just tell him, ‘Sorry, maybe next game.’”