The landscape of the 2016 NBA playoffs appeared to change when Stephen Curry suffered a knee injury nine days ago in Houston, but the Golden State Warriors haven’t missed a beat since their star went down. The defending champs have remained dominant without Curry, and the point guard might return sooner than expected.
Curry will be in street clothes for the third straight game when the Warriors host the Portland Trail Blazers on Tuesday night in Game 2 of their second-round series. Golden State coasted to a victory in Game 1; and they’ve continued to thrive, even with Curry on the bench this postseason.
The Warriors clearly aren’t better off without Curry, who led the team to a 73-win regular season and had arguably the best offensive season of all time. But after being outscored by 140 points with Curry out of the lineup through 82 games, Golden State has done just fine in the playoffs. Since Curry went down midway through Game 4 of the first round, the Warriors have outscored their opponents by 72 points over the span of 10 quarters.
Klay Thompson has filled Curry’s shoes as the primary scorer, shooting from three-point range like other in NBA history. Thompson is the first player to ever hit seven three-pointers in three consecutive postseason games, and he’s needed just 36 attempts to hit those 21 combined shots from behind the arc.
Thompson might be the best shooter in the NBA aside from Curry, and he made 3.5 threes per game on 42.5 percent shooting in the regular season. The pace that he’s currently on, however, isn’t sustainable, and he’s not above putting on an awful shooting performance. When Curry didn’t play in Game 3 against the Houston Rockets, Thompson missed all seven of his three-point attempts in a one-point loss.
Draymond Green has stepped up without Curry, too, averaging 18.7 points per game over the last three contests. But Green and Thompson might not have to carry the load much longer. Curry was diagnosed with a sprained MCL last week, and the Warriors announced that he would be re-evaluated in two weeks. Curry is reportedly healing quickly, and he might be able to come back sooner than the initial timetable.
In speaking with ESPN’s Lisa Salters during Game 1, Curry called the chances of him playing in Game 3 on Saturday “pretty good.”
"I'm doing a lot more rehab-wise, trying to test my body out a little bit," Curry told Salters. "I'm looking forward to getting back on the court, maybe a practice setting and see how it feels.
"I've gotten pretty much my full range of motion back. It's still painful, but for the most part I can get on my feet and try to do basketball activities that will get me back into the playoff atmosphere."
The decision to play, however, won’t be left up to Curry. Golden State has been very cautious with the MVP this postseason, and that could continue throughout this series, especially if Golden State continues to win with ease. As Curry discussed his potential return with Salters on Sunday, the Warriors owned a comfortable 22-point third-quarter lead over the Blazers.
Curry hoped to play in Game 2 and Game 3 against Houston after injuring his ankle, but head coach Steve Kerr and the training staff forced him to sit. Golden State is being careful not to jeopardize their title chances, and a healthy Curry could be vital in the Western Conference finals. Game 4 is scheduled for Monday, which marks two weeks and a day after Curry hurt his knee.
Start Time: 10:30 p.m. ET
TV Channel: TNT
Online Stream: Watch TNT
Betting Odds: Warriors-9.5, 212.5
Prediction: Golden State over Portland, 110-98