Steve Curry sat for Game 3 of Golden State’s first-round series against the Houston Rockets. The player that most think will win the MVP regular season award is currently bothered by a tweaked ankle. The guard hasn’t played much so far this post-season as he also missed Game 2 of the series and saw limited action in Game 1.
Heading into Game 3, it appeared as though the Warriors were in a position to throw away a game in order to rest Curry. The thinking had to be that they were not under significant pressure to win Game 3 with a two-game cushion and home games still to come if needed.
However, after losing Game 3 on a short James Harden jumper with less than 3 seconds to play the pressure facing Golden State is a little different for Game 4. That game is scheduled for Sunday from Houston with a 3:30 pm ET start time. If Golden State lose this game, then the series will be tied, and the Rockets would then have some life.
That said, there’s still no way that Golden State should be playing Curry unless he is at 95% or better. Even if the series ended up tied up at 2-2, in my books that would still make the Warriors about 90-95% favorites in the series with Curry coming back at 100% in Game 5.
Also, Golden State can beat Houston in Game 4 without Curry. If we take the Game 3 spread as an indicator, a Curry-less Warriors playing on the road at Houston is still a coin toss. In fact, I think the best thing for the Warriors is to rest Curry in Game 4 unless he’s clearly healed. A win in that game, and it might be smart to shut him down until the second round.
After all, Curry’s injury is somewhat of a strange one as it was presented as nothing to be concerned about when it originally happened. However, Curry missing Game 3 after several day’s rest indicates that there might be more than meets the eye with this ‘tweak.’
The costs/benefits of risking injury to Curry have to take a look at the big picture. While the Warriors can beat Houston without their star, they will be in very tough against the Los Angeles Clippers (likely opponent) in the second round if Curry’s ankle goes from tweaked to seriously injured due to not having enough rest.
The general sentiment right now is that Curry will be ready for Game 4. Yet, the word being used to describe the situation is “hopeful,” a word that doesn’t actually have much insight. “Probable” would have meaning, but saying that Golden State hopes that Curry is ready is practically a truism.
All things considered, I think the Curry injury is fluff when it comes to who is going to win the Houston/Golden State series. James Harden hits a jumper with 2.7 seconds left to save his team’s season (they couldn’t afford to go down 0-3) and it barely draws a reaction from Houston’s bench. The one guy that celebrated with Harden, Donatas Motiejunas, gets shoved for it in what looked somewhat antisocial. There isn’t much love for the game in this Rockets team, and I don’t see them solving Golden State, in Oakland, at any point in this series because of that.