It’s been a few days since we’ve written about the Warriors, unless you count Ruthless Sports Guy’s recap of the Twitter feud/discussion/tiff with Matt Steinmetz on Sunday morning. Later that day, the Warriors jumped out to a sizable early lead over the Pacers, scoring 38 points in the first quarter. Then the offense got stagnant, Rodney Stuckey went into human microwave mode, and the Warriors left Indy with their 10th loss of the season.
Stephen Curry missed the game due to an injury to his right foot. This is the first I’ve written about it, because I wasn’t able to watch the game live for two pretty lame reasons.
1. I had to take our dog to the emergency vet (she’s fine … better than our checking account after the visit, anyway).
2. My wife calls the Oscars her “Super Bowl,” and apparently that means she has to watch the red carpet stuff for two hours before the actual show. I said it wasn’t a valid comparison, since I never watch the pregame garbage before the Super Bowl. As you can probably surmise, my argument fell on deaf ears.
So I flipped on the Tivo after a lifeless Academy Awards show (just let Ricky Gervais host every year so everyone gets pissed off, please), and I’m not sure what we can really take from Sunday’s game. We know the Warriors are an elite offensive team with Curry on the floor, and pedestrian when he sits (the Warriors score 115.9 points per 100 possessions with Curry on the floor and 101.5 with him off, according to nbawowy), and we saw that play out against the Pacers.
Adam Rubin, a writer for Truth About It (the Wizards blog on ESPN’s True Hoop Network … and the site got its name before Washington acquired Paul Pierce, if you’re wondering) asked me if I’d take part in a Q&A heading into tonight’s game in D.C. For anyone with a website who needs some easy content, here’s some helpful advice: ask me to take part in a Q&A. I am unable to prevent myself from doing research and providing long responses to each question. It’s a sickness, as I stayed up until 1 am working on this.
So, if you’re looking for about 500 extra Warriors words from yours truly, click HERE.
Now, I’m going to steal the first question they asked and my answer.
#1) Stephen Curry sat out Sundays’ game versus Indiana with an ankle injury (the Warriors lost by 6). He practiced on Monday but is listed as questionable for tonight’s game versus Washington. Given Curry’s early-career injury history, how concerned are you?
@BASportsGuy: It’s always concerning when the team’s best player misses time due to injury, but there’s no signal yet that the ailment is all that serious. I was at Friday’s home win against the Spurs, and I noticed Curry limp slightly for a few seconds while looking annoyed. I wondered if he tweaked his ankle, but then he started running normally and went back to making crazy highlight plays, so I totally forgot about that brief instance when Curry moved gingerly … until he was a pregame scratch in Indiana.
The Warriors are going to be cautious with Curry, and they may have thought they could steal a win against the Pacers without him. Curry said the pain stems from his heel after stepping on someone’s foot on Friday (the key there: it’s not his surgically-repaired left ankle), and the fact that the team’s medical staff isn’t keeping him off his feet entirely says they don’t believe anything is torn or too badly bruised.
I’m not on the Warriors beat, so I should probably credit Diamond Leung, the source for Curry’s injury specifics.
No, Stephen Curry says, his twice surgically repaired right ankle is “not really” where he is feeling discomfort.
The Warriors guard said the soreness that caused him to miss Sunday’s 104-98 loss at Indiana came from his heel.
“So it’s not anything I’ve had before,” Curry said Monday. “So it’s not anything I had surgery on or a normal ankle sprain. It’s different.”
Curry is probable tonight — apparently his foot is still sore, but it hasn’t gotten any worse.
As I wrote in the Q&A, I saw Curry limp a bit after landing awkwardly against the Spurs and completely forgot about the whole thing until he was a pregame scratch two nights later. My wife (who actually does like sports) and I attended a game as fans two years ago, when the Warriors beat the Wizards at Oracle. Curry tweaked his ankle, putting shivers through the crowd.
Here’s some visual evidence:
He limped off the floor, and it looked far more serious than whatever happened against San Antonio. However, despite the pained expression on his face, Curry came back and played and missed no game action.
So unless he got a case of sudden plantar fasciitis (Under Armour’s worst nightmare, since the Curry One just dropped with a mega-marketing campaign), I’m guessing he’s fine. The bigger worry is that the Warriors’ offense, which can look so dazzlingly good at times, is as fragile as Andrew Bogut — and not just because Bogut’s screen-setting and passing helps quite a bit.
Teams are going to trap, pressure and smack Curry around throughout the playoffs. He’s capable of putting up good numbers despite such things, but they need to be able to count on an offensive option not named Klay Thompson. Thompson was phenomenal against the Pacers, and got almost no help. Andre Iguodala was the only other player in double figures with 14 points, but he went 4-for-11. Harrison Barnes and Green went a combined 4-for-17. The Warriors scored just 60 points in the final three quarters (shooting 32% from the floor and 28% on threes over that time). Golden State got stagnant, something Steve Kerr noted afterward.
Since Curry seems dead set on playing at least 78 games this season (his total in each of the past two seasons), and no one plays 48 mpg, there’s a chance he’ll need to rest a few minutes during some of these playoff games coming up. Just a hunch. I don’t doubt Curry can play 78 games despite this latest foot ailment, but perhaps the most important thing the Warriors need to work on over the rest of this season is producing sustainable offense when Curry isn’t on the floor. Guys like Barnes and Green have feasted at times due to the defensive attention Curry receives, and they’re on the floor because they defend and spread the floor, but the Warriors need at least one of those players to create some offense without Curry’s help on a semi-consistent basis.
Kerr’s offense calls for lots of movement, cutting and passing, which should help provide open shots without Curry on the floor, but it takes effort and energy. The Warriors expend a lot of energy defensively, so finding that balance (both offensively and defensively, and their performance when Curry plays and sits) is going to tell the story of this season.