It couldn’t have gone any better until the last minutes of Golden State’s comeback against the New Orleans Pelicans. After their thoroughly dominant 46-assist performance against the Orlando Magic, the Warriors reverted back to their DGAF ways, giving up a million points in the first half, coming back from 20 points in the third, and methodically and explosively putting the opponent away in the 4th quarter. Then it all flashed before every person’s eyes for just a second. Stephen Curry’s surgically repaired ankle went sideways.
Jim Barnett and Bob Fitzgerald spend just about every waking moment on every broadcast fretting and wringing their collective hands over the very notion of a notion that Stephen Curry would even dare skin the tips of their kneecaps on the hardwood. So when Curry finally twisted it and limped off the floor, the gesticulations were less enforced and more ingrained into our memory. Seen a million times, the same old feelings of anxiety and stress came rushing back in one single focus.
There is some good and there is some bad, and like most things for the Warriors these days, it didn’t have much to do with the game. The bad is that Curry is probably out a week, at the very least, and the Warriors are without the guy that makes them go, makes their offense hum, and most selfishly, makes them impossibly fun to watch. But mostly, the bad starts and ends with that ankle being the one oft-injured nearly half a decade ago now. It doesn’t mean it will become consistent. The fact Curry was doing postgame interviews likely means this will be a short timeframe for recovery. The problem with ligaments, however, is that if they are not fully healed or allowed to heal, then the chance for reaggravation or re-injury strikes. Someone like Curry, who has tried to, and at time succeeded, in overriding the medical staff on gameday decisions, risks that problem. What the Warriors don’t want is Curry to play through an injury, allowing his ankle to land or twist sideways at any given moment, especially not in the postseason.
The good is that without Curry, other players are forced to play better offensively than they have. For most teams, losing their best player is worst-case, especially for, say, the Cleveland Cavaliers. Fortunately, the Warriors are so talented that they won’t sacrifice much in terms of winning and losing with someone like Kevin Durant in the fold. Patrick McCaw, who shined against the Sacramento Kings, if he is healthy after leaving the game with a nose injury, will take his place. The same reason why Andre Iguodala only shoots well when Kevin Durant is going to manifest here while Curry is out. It’s not the best-case scenario, but at the very least, it will allow guys like McCaw, Draymond, Iguodala, and even Nick Young to play more, initiate more, and become self-sufficient.
Think of what Curry did last season when Durant injured his knee and took a few weeks off. If there is one weakness the Warriors still have it’s that the team still struggles when Curry isn’t on his game. What if the Warriors because the Oklahoma City Thunder were when Durant was MVP the year Russell Westbrook was hurt? And in turn, able to shift seamlessly into different variations of either that Thunder team or this Warriors team any time they choose?
It’s hard to say the Curry injury is a blessing in disguise. But as long as it isn’t something that season-lingering, this provides a few weeks of entertainment and forced growth from the rest of the Warriors that can form something even better than we’ve ever seen.