Warriors point guard Stephen Curry is a game-time decision with a sprained left ankle.
X-rays were negative, a team official said, and no MRI was scheduled. Curry is getting ‘round-the-clock treatment. Officially he’s a game-time decision. But his chances of playing are made dicey by the earlier start. Sunday’s game tips off at 12:30, giving Curry about 36 hours of rest and rehabilitation.
MARK JACKSON: “Again, as usual, just staying true to the process. He’ll get treatment all day long. I’ll stay in constant contact with him. We’ll see how he feels and make a decision whether he plays or not tomorrow.”
At the 4:40 mark of the fourth quarter in Game 3, Curry, dribbling at the top, rolled his left ankle. He immediately began limping and gave up the ball. The Warriors eventually fouled to stop play, but he stayed in the game, waving off the substation.
It’s not his surgically repaired right ankle, which has given him problems the previous two seasons. It was the same ankle Curry sprained in Game 2 at Denver. It hadn’t been a problem since he got his second anti-inflammatory injection just before Game 4 at Oracle. Golden State had three days off before the Spurs series.
Curry has been the heart and soul of the Warriors (already without All-Star forward David Lee) and without him, their chances at upsetting No. 2 San Antonio appear suspect.
KLAY THOMPSON: “He’ll play. No question about it. He will play through anything. He’s got heart.”
Warriors point guard Stephen Curry is a game-time decision with a sprained left ankle.
The Warriors, seemingly unfazed by their fourth-quarter meltdown in Game 1, have built up another big lead on the host Spurs.
Guard Klay Thompson has taken over the game with 29 points, including seven first-half 3-pointers, to send Golden State into the locker room up 62-43 in Game 2 of this Western Conference second round series. On two quarters, he tied the Warriors record for 3-pointers in a playoff game, set by Stephen Jackson in 2007.
Curry knocked down his first two 3-point attempts. He missed his third attempt, but was fouled on the fourth, the free throws putting Golden State ahead 10-8 with 7:54 left in the third.
With memories of his 22-point quarter in Game 1 still fresh in their minds, the Spurs started paying even closer attention to Curry. So Thompson got going.
He scored five points in 41 seconds, which proved to be a sign. Later in the quarter, he scored five more in 33 seconds, his pull-up jumper in transition putting Golden State ahead 28-20.
Golden State led 28-23 entering the second quarter. Then Thompson really got hot. The Warriors led by six midway through the second quarter. But Thompson hit four straight 3-pointers to power an 18-5 Warriors run to close the half.
Golden State’s defense, of which Thompson was a big part, held the Spurs to 37.2 percents hooting in the first half. San Antonio was 0-for-7 from 3-point range and was outrebounded 28-20.
The Warriors led by as much as 18 in Game 1. They had a 16-point lead with 4:31 left in the fourth quarter before the Spurs closed the game on an 18-2 run to force overtime. San Antonio won it in double-overtime.
In the grand scheme of this second round Western Conference series, the Warriors are down 0-1 after Monday’s loss to the host Spurs.
But a pivotal question now faces Golden State. Was the 129-127 double-overtime defeat, punctuated by San Antonio guard Manu Ginobili’s devastating game-winning 3-pointer, evidence the young Warriors can hang with the veteran Spurs, or was it a back-breaking missed opportunity from which they’ll have a tough time recovering?
No doubt, coach Mark Jackson is leaning on the former.
JACKSON: “It was a great game for us, a hard-fought game. We’re a young basketball team that will be better at the end of the day. … I saw a lot of good things.”
But it’s hard not to think the latter, that this blow was too much to overcome. The Warriors, who have now dropped 30 straight in San Antonio, were up 16 with 4:31 left before blowing what looked to be a comfortable Game 1 win. They squandered chances to win it both overtimes with poor execution on both ends.
And all this happened with Spurs future Hall of Famer Tim Duncan, battling stomach flu, sitting out the final 14-plus minutes.
Conventional wisdom says the Spurs — who haven’t played in eight days — kick it into gear and breathe a sigh of relief, having survived the scare, and get back to business.
But the Warriors say it was just one missed opportunity and there will be others.
STEPHEN CURRY: “We had a heart-breaker Game 1 of last series. So we’ve been here before. Obviously, you don’t want to experience that again. But we know how to come back. We’ve been a resilient team all year. We know how to turn it back on.”
More on the Game 1 loss …
Warriors coach Mark Jackson, who led Golden State to its first playoff appearance in six years, finished seventh in Coach of the Year voting. The 2013 award went to Denver’s George Karl, who garnered 62 of the 121 first-place votes.
JARRETT JACK: “He’s done a magnificent job and in my opinion should be the coach of the year.”
It wasn’t close. Jackson, in his second season as a head coach, received three first place votes. The other coaches ahead of him in voting: Miami’s Erik Spoelstra, New York’s Mike Woodson, San Antonio’s Gregg Popovich, Indiana’s Frank Vogel, Memphis’ Lionel Hollins. All of them had at least 50 wins or finished among the top four in their conference.
Golden State finished with 47 wins, which amounts to about 18 more than the previous lockout-shortened season. The Warriors finished second in the Pacific Division and sixth in the Western Conference. And they did it with center Andrew Bogut missing most of the year and losing swingman Brandon Rush to a season-ending injury in November.
BOGUT: “The main reason why we’re here is Coach.”
Oddly enough, the Warriors advanced to the second round largely because Jackson outcoached Karl in the first round.
Don Nelson was the last Warrior to win coach of the year back in 1992.
The biggest game-changing event in the Warriors’ Game 1 double-overtime loss to the San Antonio Spurs was probably the moment guard Klay Thompson fouled out.
What unfolded afterward was almost too tough to watch.
THOMPSON: “It was killing me to watch from the sidelines. I’ve got to be smarter than that. I play aggressive, but maybe limit to three or four fouls a night, just for the sake of our team because I need to be out there.”
But the Warriors weren’t missing Thompson’s to-die-for jumper. They were missing his defense. As soon as he came out, San Antonio guard Tony Parker took over the game.
Thompson has become Golden State’s defensive stopper. His ability to play on-ball defense keeps the Warriors from having to switch and double-team, a big bonus for Golden State’s scheme. He has been especially adept at defending smaller quicker point guards. He was effective slowing down Denver’s Ty Lawson. Monday against the Spurs, he gave Parker fits.
The Warriors point guard is pictured on the popular magazine regionally this week, shooting a jumper with the Oracle Arena faithful in the background.
The last time Golden State was on the Sports Illustrated cover was December 1997, when All-Star guard Latrell Sprewell choked coach P.J. Carlesimo. The last time they were on the cover for on-court performance was in December 1980 when Lloyd “World B.” Free was featured.
So if Curry has a rough shooting night, would the SI jinx be to blame? The last time the Warriors were the cover, they went through a 16-year All-Star drought.
Stephen Curry didn’t even have full control of the ball. Trying to execute a crossover, he lost the handle for a second and the ball rolled to his left. Curry, a step inside the 3-point line, picked it up and immediately hoisted at three. And there was no doubt in his mind it was going in.
CURRY: “I was feeling good. The easy answer say I practice that over the summer … Ask the coach to throw a bunch of bad passes, or in a drill just mess up a dribble move and pick it up.”
Warriors All-Star forward David Lee will be active during the San Antonio series. That in and of itself is a feat.
He is supposed to be out for the year. His right hip flexor was completely torn after an awkward land in the fourth quarter of Game 1. But not even two weeks later, he was back on the court. How is that possible?
Mark Jackson calls it a miracle. Stephen Curry calls it inspirational. David Lee calls it him doing whatever he can for his team. Many others will call it a reason to be mad at Derrick Rose. Here are the details, so you can call it what you want.
Admittedly, I underestimated Stephen Curry in the Denver series. I also overestimated the Nuggets. But I picked Denver in six mostly because I figured Curry could get 30 points and the Warriors still lose. It’s happened before.
What I didn’t account for was the impact stars make in playoffs series, good and bad. Their ability to change games, seize momentum, do the prolific, it matters so much more in the postseason. It’s not that Curry can score, it’s that he impacts nearly every single aspect of the game: how the opposing defense responds, the amount of pressure on the opposing offense to score, the confidence of the supporting cast, the looks they get, the adrenaline and feel good that helps on the defensive end, the momentum they create.
That’s what stars do in the playoffs. And Denver didn’t have that.
Such is factored into my prediction for this series: Spurs in 7.
My first impulse was to say San Antonio in five games. But I can’t shake the feeling the Warriors will win one in San Antonio. Why? Because that’s the type of thing stars pull off. And if the Warriors win one in San Antonio, this isn’t the route many are expecting. In the first meeting here, on Jan. 18, the Warriors trailed by 4 inside of three minutes – without Curry (Spurs didn’t have Manu Ginobili). In the second matchup at San Antonio, March 20, Golden State trailed by 4 inside of four minutes left. So both games were close. It’s not like this Warriors’ team can’t win in San Antonio.
Golden State is 2-0 against San Antonio in Oakland. Andrew Bogut didn’t play in either game, and Oracle wasn’t the ridiculously raucous arena it has been for the playoffs. Still, San Antonio is good enough to get one in Oracle. Especially if the Warriors steal one of the first two in San Antonio and put the Spurs in must-win mode. But will their role players be as good in such an environment?
Even if the Warriors lose the first two in San Antonio, I can certainly see the Warriors going 2-0 at Oracle and heading back to San Antonio for a pivotal Game 5.
Another reason I think this series will be close: Manu Ginobili is not the same Ginobili. He’s good enough to torch the Warriors for a big game. But over a seven-game series, his injuries and age might get the best of him. I certainly see the Warriors being able to manage him. If so, who’s the third scorer for the Spurs. It could be one of five people. But if the Warriors stay home, not fall into trapping and doubling so much, those extra guys can be held in check. After Ginobili, they’re relying on Kawhi Leonard, Danny Green and Gary Neal for offense. So if Bogut can guard Tim Duncan and keep the Warriors’ defense honest, and Klay Thompson can hold his own against Tony Parker, the Warriors are not in bad position.
Here is an in-depth look at the match-ups: