Stephen Curry was nearing the end of what was an exceptionally efficient performance against the Chicago Bulls (21 points, 10 assists, 7 rebounds and 6 steals that made up for the 4 turnovers he committed), then he tweaked his ankle again. Again! Either one or more of these six things have to be at play here…
- Curry’s ankle is weakened significantly after several injuries and a surgical procedure.
- He’s had a lot of bad luck.
- His game is such that he often finds himself landing on opponents’ feet with his right foot.
- He needs different shoes.
- His ankle has degenerated to the point where he’s going to miss significant time at some point (a la Grant Hill).
- His pain tolerance isn’t all that high.
Mark Jackson already had quite the challenge, getting this bunch of defense-phobic players who’ve never won anything to come together and play like they did on Monday after very little prep time. Now his challenge may be how to handle Curry’s injury status. Will he continue to play Curry but limit his minutes to 30 per game? Or will he have a conversation with the front office and team doctors that leads to Curry sitting down for a couple of weeks?
It probably depends on how Curry’s ankle looks from the inside an MRI tube and Curry’s own feelings about the condition of his ankle (and from what Matt Steinmetz reported, Curry’s latest ankle tweakage didn’t appear all that severe).
Jackson’s rotation tightened a little on Monday, with Klay Thompson playing 8 fewer minutes (and taking 6 fewer shots) than he did against the Clippers, and even with Curry getting hurt in the middle of the fourth quarter he still ended up playing 7 more seconds than Ellis. When Curry’s racking up assists and steals and scoring 21 points on 12 shots, it’s hard for any coach to sit him down.
Something else to ponder: Jackson played 82 games in eight of his 17 seasons. He played 81 games in three other seasons, and 83 games in 2000-01 (when Toronto traded Jackson and Muggsy Bogues for Chris Childs and a first-round pick that ended up being Kareem Rush — Brandon’s brother). Jackson only missed 10 games three times in his career, when he played 72 games apiece in his second and fourth seasons, and in 2003-04 (his last season), when he signed with the Rockets as a free agent in January and played 42 games without missing any time due to injury.
One could easily assume Jackson played hurt during many of his 1,296 games. He probably expects the same from his players. While an extended rest period seems inevitable, seeing as Curry’s left the floor twice in a week due to an ankle that’s been problematic for a while, Curry might have to gut it out and play at less than full strength during this abbreviated season.