After closing out the Houston Rockets in Game 5 of their first-round playoff series, the Golden State Warriors are awaiting their second-round opponent. Whether it’s the Portland Trail Blazers or the Los Angeles Clippers, the Warriors might have to accept competing without Stephen Curry for most of the series.
Portland has a 3-2 series lead over Los Angeles, and if the Clippers win Game 6 on Friday, it would delay the start of the second-round series. But even if the series goes to a deciding Game 7, Curry is guaranteed to miss at least a few contests.
Having suffered an MCL sprain on Sunday, Curry will be re-evaluated in two weeks. The earliest he could return based on that timetable is May 9. It's possible that Curry could recover quicker than expected, though the team has maintained caution when it comes to their star player's health.
Warriors guard Stephen Curry is starting to feel better and is expected to begin testing his knee on the court next week, a source said.
— Marc J. Spears (@MarcJSpearsESPN) April 28, 2016
A win for Portland on Friday means the second round would begin on May 1. The Trail Blazers are favored in Game 6 against a Clippers squad dealing with injuries to Blake Griffin and Chris Paul.
If L.A. wins and forces a Game 7, the second round won’t begin until Tuesday, May 3. But such a delay wouldn’t help the Warriors play fewer games without Curry. No matter what, it looks like Game 3 and Game 4 will be scheduled for Saturday, May 7, and Monday, May 9, respectively. That would leave Game 5 to be played on May 12, and Game 6 on either May 13 or May 15, with potentially Game 7 played on May 16.
Game 5 is probably the most realistic scenario for Curry to return to the court. Based on the way they played the Rockets, the Warriors will likely remain in contention with or without him.
Golden State lost Game 3 to Houston when Curry didn’t play, but for the most part, Steve Kerr's squad has picked up the slack. Without Curry in Game 2, the Warriors won by nine points. They also outscored the Rockets by 27 points after Curry went down with his knee injury in Game 4.
Game 5 was a blowout from the start, with Golden State clinching the series with a 33-point rout.
Curry played in all eight games against the Clippers and Trail Blazers this season. Golden State swept the regular-season series with Los Angeles, 4-0, though the first three games were close. The Warriors had three wins over the Blazers by at least 16 points, but Portland earned a 137-105 victory over Golden State on Feb. 19.
The Western Conference finals are slated to start either May 17 or May 18, but could move up to May 15 or May 16.