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The Warriors have more than passed the Curry-less test

Golden State has been far better than expected while Steph Curry has been injured.

Steph Curry, in street clothes, celebrating with Kevon Looney after Looney made a game-winning shot Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images

Steph Curry was injured on December 14, in a game the Golden State Warriors lost to the Indiana Pacers, with no one caring about the result, because ... well, because Steph Curry was injured.

We didn’t know the extent of the injury, but we did know that Curry would likely be out for at least a few weeks. Here’s a small sample platter of some of the comments made on this site in the days following the injury:

We don’t have a cushion. The play-in spot is in serious jeopardy if he misses significant time

If Curry is out, the Warriors are pretty well history this year

Victor Wembanyama here we come

Optimistically, we’re going 3-7

If we stay above .250 I’ll be shocked. This is not last year’s Warriors where we could be good enough to get a win here or there without Steph

Honestly we arent making the playoffs

Reposting these comments is not meant to poke fun at the people making them. They’re very fair remarks, and they were echoed by many of us writing the articles.

And now here we are, with just two home games separating the Warriors from Curry’s targeted return date.

In his 10-game absence, the Warriors have dramatically exceeded expectations. They’ve gone 6-4 during that stretch, though I have some cold water to throw on that: their garbage-time adjusted net rating has been just -3.4, 24th in the league during that stretch. But I have warm water to throw on that cold water: it’s largely due to the back-to-back blowout losses to the New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets, when the Dubs were outscored by 68 points in a span of about 48 hours.

They’ve benefitted from having Curry’s injury happen before a long home stand: six of their 10 games have been at home, and the final two of The Chef’s absence will be at home, too.

But here’s where it gets impressive: they’ve been awesome at home, even with Curry out. Not as awesome, mind you, but they’ve dropped a 5-1 record with a +4.4 net rating.

And now’s where I remind you that Andrew Wiggins, Golden State’s other reigning All-Star starter, has missed Curry’s entire absence as well. This is impressive. Also, apologies to Wiggins to not making him a focal point of this article. At the time of Curry’s injury, we didn’t know the extent of Wiggins’ absence, so the freakout was entirely about losing one starter, not two.

There’s more good in the Warriors treading water with Curry out than just in the standings. They seem poised to improve on their mediocre start to the season once they’re healthy. Klay Thompson has found his rhythm, averaging 33.6 points on 46.6/40.0/94.7 shooting splits over the last five games. Jonathan Kuminga, when he was healthy, was playing his best basketball of the season. Donte DiVincenzo has been a stud since sliding into the starting lineup, averaging 10.6 points, 6.2 rebounds, 4.3 assists, and 1.6 steals, while shooting 41.8% from three-point range. When he scales back to a bench role he’ll be playing at an elite sub level. The defense, while not as good with Curry and Wiggins out, has looked connected and focused.

Assuming Curry does return for next Friday’s game, the Dubs will have gone, at worst, 6-6 in his absence. And they’ll likely have gone 7-5 or 8-4, since their last two games are home contests against a bad Orlando Magic squad, and a Phoenix Suns team that is on a four-game losing streak, is 6-14 on the road, and is without their superstar, Devin Booker.

If I had told you three weeks ago that the Warriors would go 6-6 during Curry’s absence (with Wiggins out, too!), you’d have been ecstatic. 7-5 or 8-4 and you would have called my bluff.

The Dubs have passed the test. Now it’s time to see if they can turn back into a championship contender when Curry laces up his Under Armours again.

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