The Texas winds take a precarious shift in the aftermath of a scrutinized road defeat to the Rockets earlier this week. The locker of No. 30 loomed empty that night, like the throne of an absentee Egyptian demigod. This time, Curry's band of immortals will gear up at high noon, ready to take the saddle with their leader at the helm again.
But before the cheering comes the concern: the infamy of the surgically repaired right ankle extends its dread far beyond Steph's psyche. From Ayesha to the Davidson ball boy, everyone who knows why Curry is getting paid a bargain $11 million a year knows that this is a deadly flirtation.
"The only thing I need to be sure about is the stability of (the ankle) - when I need to call on a certain move, or a certain pivot, or plant, change of direction, change of speeds, that my ankle will be underneath me - and I feel that I'm at that point right now. I can deal with a little bit of pain and discomfort - not pain, (but) discomfort - that comes along with it as long as I can feel stable. I don't foresee that being an issue."
"It's not pain. It's like soreness that comes along with all that my ankle has been through. It's kind of to be expected, and I see it as this is kind of my playoff thing now. Everybody has something that they're dealing with in some way, shape or form. It's stable, there's no swelling or anything so I can do everything I need to do."
"You've kind of got to force yourself (into playing freely) at this point. I don't know how it will be tomorrow, when I get out there in a game situation and I don't know where my mind will be. I know I have confidence with what I've been doing the last couple of days to kind of prove I can do what I need to do, whatever move I need to try to execute."
"Like you say, play with that creativity. I feel like I can do that in this setting, and hopefully that translates to a clear mind and confidence in myself tomorrow."
- Stephen Curry
Sam Amick, USA Today
To venture into further precaution, keep in mind that Stephen will be suiting up against an emotional crowd, ready to witness the 8th seed Rockets (who some consider to be the best 8th seed team ever) "shock the world." Feeding from this overwrought energy, is the culprit of Curry's concern, Patrick Beverley.
The combination of Pat Beverley's physicality, the raucous Houston home crowd encouraging a smash-mouth brand of ball, and Stephen Curry's risky situation serves up an intense recipe for Game 4.
Draymond Green is anxious to redeem the record to a 3-1 lead before heading back to Oracle. After committing 7 turnovers in Game 3, Green claims that he "wasn't himself," and vows to enact his vengeance this Sunday afternoon.
"We got to be better than we were tonight. Especially me. Way too many turnovers. I cost us the game. The world will think I'm talking about that last turnover. And I'm not. Turning the ball over, that happens.
But I was awful the whole game. I care about the turnover, but I don't care to the point where I feel like that turnover cost us. I cost us the game, throughout the game. It's not what I didn't do, more so, what I didn't bring to the game."
- Draymond Green
Great players bounce back. The Warriors will count on Green and Klay Thompson to come into Sunday's game ready to bring energy. With Curry back, Klay should return to the mentality of "channeling his inner Reggie Miller," and seek to move unceasingly without the ball. Draymond will look to push the tempo and dare the Rockets' bigs to match his speed. Steve Kerr needs him to be the aggressor, and force Houston to play uphill.
Steve Kerr's squad is yearning for anything from Harrison Barnes at this point. Assuming the Warriors are using this postseason as any sort of measuring stick for HB's future, it's imperative that he contributes today.
*Barnes is averaging 7 ppg over the past 3 playoff games, while shooting 24% FG, 12% 3pt
Shaun Livingston has replaced Harrison Barnes as the Warriors, "X-Factor," this post-season. The veteran leader has slipped the noose of the opposition's plan, and continually comes up with big plays during crucial points of the game. His mid-range offense is so sinister within his mismatch advantage, that Steve Kerr's confidence is elevating to new heights, playing him in the 4th quarter. The Warriors will count on him to sustain them in their time of need, and preserve the ailing Curry.
It's going to be a dog fight.
- James Harden