Now, in the preview I wrote for the Golden State Warriors relatively meaningless 106-94 victory over the Cancun trip planning Atlanta Hawks, my Gold-blooded Prediction was pretty spot on. I guessed the final score to be 105-96 (almost nailed it). I also foresaw Stephen Curry balling out in his return from a sprained ankle that forced him to miss six games (he had 29 points in 25 minutes).
What I did not Gold-bloodedly anticipate was Curry, also known as “The Unanimous Sniper”, hobbling off of the court in the third quarter as Roaracle Arena went dead silent. Ugh, let’s deep dive into four salient takeaways from this latest chapter in a book entitled, “No Excuses: The Wounded Warriors Bid to Repeat”.
Can we get that MRI already?
You ever get a bad stomachache after eating week old Chinese food at 1 AM, and your mind briefly considers a visit to the doctor? But right before you head to the hospital, you decide to Google your symptoms just to see what they COULD be?
That’s when you see the first diagnosis, and it’s like “simple gas, you’ll be fine”. You relax a little bit, and that stomach seems a tad relieved. Then, your eyes drop down to the next bullet point for another illness possibility: “You may have the Black Plague, death is probably imminent”. What? How?! Immediately, fear and confusion grips your heart, and that ache skyrockets in intensity.
That’s pretty much the state of Dub Nation right now with Curry hobbled after Javale McGee crashed into his leg on an errant block attempt. We’re hoping for the best, but there’s a gnawing possibility of the worst-case scenario with our fragile superstar’s delicate body.
Steph exits the game after JaVale lands on his left leg pic.twitter.com/oxuJkHe2N0— Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) March 24, 2018
After I immediately assumed one of his ankles had given out, reports started trickling in across the interwebs that he actually sprained his MCL. The momentary sigh of relief that he didn’t get his 4000th ankle injury was quickly replaced by me trying to play couch-doctor via Google on MCL injuries.
-Curry had a Grade 1 MCL sprain in right knee in 2016 playoffs, missed 15 days— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) March 24, 2018
-Durant had a Grade 2 MCL sprain last season, missed six weeks
-Playoffs start three weeks from tomorrowhttps://t.co/n0wMVzZYF0
So either two weeks... or a month-and-a-half? Wow, I’m going to use my couch-doctor expertise and explain that THIS HELLA SUCKS with the playoffs lurking in the middle of that timeline. I also recall very clearly Curry’s postseason when he heroically rushed back from that MCL two years ago.
There was the night he eviscerated Damian Lillard in Portland and set the record for most points in an overtime period. Then there was also his diminished performance in the Finals, where by Game 7 he couldn’t even crossover the plodding Kevin Love. That nightmare conclusion to the postseason can be traced directly to Curry’s wounded knee (and also Harrison Barnes playing like garbage).
Curry will get an MRI today and we’ll know more. Until then, expect to hear endless speculation from your friends about that one time they hurt their knee, and like, it totally sucked, bro.
"Kind of a strange, cruel twist of fate."— Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) March 24, 2018
Steve Kerr discusses Stephen Curry's knee injury. pic.twitter.com/SF9ihgfixN
Bench players Cookin’ with Swag
Of course no human can replace Curry’s effect on the offense: former MVP Kevin Durant even referred to him as “The System”. Yet, Durant was added to the Golden Empire following the 2016 Finals collapse to ensure that even if Curry goes down, the team still has a ball-handler who can draw a double team, and get you 50 points by himself.
In addition, the Warriors role players will be scrutinized for their ability to hold down the fort until Curry comes back. Last night, the Warriors guard tandem of Quinn Cook and Nick “Swaggy P” Young delivered some more hope to the Bay Area.
Frenzied Oracle crowds have been inciting role-players to hoop out of their minds forever (see: We Believe era Andris Biedrins). Young fed off of the Oakland crowd’s energy and scored 24 points on 9-of-17 shooting (6-of-11 from the arc). Cook had 13 points, 8 rebounds, and 6 assists in 32 minutes with only 1 turnover.
Now, I’m not looking for these fro-hawked gentlemen to suddenly morph into Chauncey Billups and Rip Hamilton come playoff time. They will play a supporting role as Durant, Draymond Green, and Klay Thompson shoulder the heavy load in Curry’s absence.
But, I am starting to salivate about what they can do when opposing defenses sell-out to stop the Warriors All-Stars. I wouldn’t be surprised if Young and Cook erupt in key sequences and push the tide of the battle Golden State’s way in the postseason.
McCaw is worrying me more than Curry’s knee
I joke with Nate P. (godfather of GSoM) all the time about Andre Iguodala’s impact on the young Patrick McCaw. “P-Mac” is such a bright young man and humble learner that he is undoubtedly sponging up all of Iguodala’s Olympic-level knowledge of the game. Unfortunately, McCaw seems to have cloned the 34 year old Iguodala’s flaky jumper and his hesitancy to finish at the rim in traffic.
In the two games since returning from a wrist injury, the young fella is shooting 3-of-17 from the field (1-for-7 from the arc), with 1 rebound, 1 assist, and 6 fouls. For the season, he’s shooting 41% from the field, and is perpetually trailing ball-handlers on defense. If this guy doesn’t crank it up in the next three weeks, I wonder if he’ll even crack the playoff rotation.
Somebody hug McGee for me
Poor Javale McGee, man. Take another look at that clip of Curry limping around after McGee accidentally slammed into his leg. McGee is bent over in slack-jawed shock as he stares at the wobbling future Hall-of-Famer. I can only imagine the agony going through the gentle giant’s heart as the building fell into a tense hush.
Somehow, Curry has the presence of mind to go slap hands with the man who may have cranked up the degree of difficulty on the Warriors title defense from “can’t wait to expose Houston and get another parade” to “Captain Picard announcing Red Alert”.
After the game, McGee had a thousand-yard stare in his interview as he attempted to collect his emotion.
JaVale McGee on the Curry injury: "Everyone has a TV. I fell into him. I know y'all don't think I'm sitting here like, 'Yes, I fell into him.' That's the star player...I feel very bad that I was a part of that." pic.twitter.com/wRhGrhdQU3— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) March 24, 2018
Tough to swallow, indeed. Yet, the NBA season rages on and is nearing it’s climax. The Warriors have proven to be light years ahead in the past, we must trust that they will figure this out too. I, for one, am unswayed by the recent rash of injuries that have crippled both our team and the rest of the league.
Come April 15th, taxes will be due, and the playoffs will begin. I look forward to the Warriors taxing the Western Conference’s ass in the Bay’s most peculiar title run yet. Strap in folks, we’re only a few weeks away from destiny.
Who was your Warrior Wonder for the win against the Hawks?
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