BOSTON – For Steph Curry, there is solace in this uneasiness.
Curry, the Golden State Warriors’ top scorer and two-time Kia MVP, suffered a left foot injury in the fourth quarter of Game 3 at the TD Garden on Wednesday, ending his night early and raising questions about his availability for Game 4 of 2022 in the NBA Final Friday (9 ET, ABC).
Curry answered the main question on Thursday – “I’m going to play. That’s all I know for now” — and at least provided some context on what he and Warriors medical staff believe is similar to, but less serious than, the one he was dealing with in March.
Back then, coincidentally against Boston, the Golden State star walked out in the second quarter, underwent an MRI that revealed ligament strains, and missed the last 12 games of the regular season.
Curry said this one wasn’t that bad. Speaking to reporters after a long night’s rest and “a few ice bucket dives,” he said he expected time until Friday’s notice for further treatments and improvements.
“Get as much rest and healing as possible and understand how important Game 4 is,” he said. “I’m excited for the opportunity.”
Curry was injured in a loose-ball scrum that saw multiple players hit the ground at 4-07 left and Boston at 110-98. Curry became the fourth player to take a knee and Celtics big man Al Horford finished fifth, landing at the feet of the golden state guard. Curry winced in pain and teammate Draymond Green picked up his sixth foul, pinching Marcus Smart before a whistle blew.
So all around a costly game for Golden State. Still, it could have been worse.
“When I did it in the regular season, I knew immediately something was wrong,” Curry said. “Last night I knew I was hurt, but it wasn’t that bad.” He stayed in the game until the 2:19 mark, long enough to take a punch in the ribs from Smart’s driving bank shot.
“I was kind of able to gauge whether or not I should stay out there and not do any further damage. So I’m very confident that I’ll play tomorrow and keep it moving. You become your own doctor to some degree based on all the different episodes you’ve had.”
Green, teammates expect him to play better
Draymond Green had the kind of game on Wednesday that has skeptics questioning his net worth. As important as he is as a middle linebacker to Golden State’s defense, it can be a luxury — an extravagance some nights — to play someone 35 minutes when they’re producing two points, four rebounds, and three assists while making 1 -vs-4 shoots before fouling .
Green was at his best, scolding the umpires, hitting and bullying Boston players, and inspiring profane chants from the Garden crowd. Afterward, he dropped an expletive himself, saying he “played like [bleep]’ and vowed to do better on Friday.
His coaches and teammates had no doubts about that.
“Well, Draymond is here for a reason,” said Klay Thompson. “We wouldn’t be the Warriors without Draymond. He’s one of the best players I’ve ever played with. We are all human. We’re not immune to a bad night or two.
“I know Draymond is going to come out and play his signature brand of ball, which is very physical, fast, talks trash and is just that ‘Money Green’ that Dub Nation loves so much and that has taken us to heights that the franchise had never seen before.”
This season, there was only a modest correlation between Green’s individual performance and the Warriors’ results. In their wins, he averaged 8.2 points with 54.7% shooting and 7.5 rebounds. Her losses were 5.7 to 44.6% and 6.8 rebounds. He was 2-on-3 with nine points, five rebounds and seven rebounds in Golden State’s Game 2 triumph, but a combined 3-on-16 with six points and 15 rebounds in the two losses.
Celtics stuck in the 3rd quarter of Groundhog Day
The Celtics know that turnovers and the third quarter have been chronic issues for them this postseason. We know and they know we know they know. And yet it happens again and again.
Coach Ime Udoka can scold them, they can remember at half-time how crucial the next 12 minutes can be – and indeed they go out and fight again.
Boston has surpassed Golden State in the first, second, and fourth quarters combined by 52 points in three Finals games. The Celtics have been outscored by 43 points in the three third quarters so far.
When asked to explain the disruption – he is very vigilant about the issue, even if it keeps happening – Smart said: “Can’t. It’s just one of those things where it’s a mystery. You go out and do the best you can.
“You can have a plan and it doesn’t work. … We’re definitely trying not to perpetuate that pattern.”
Golden State, on the other hand, was energized in the third quarter. And coach Steve Kerr said he knew exactly why.
“I go into my book with incredibly inspirational quotes from movies and history,” he said dryly. “I’m just trying to get the right one out and when I’m cheering them on and they’re excited they seem to be playing better.”
Then Kerr admitted. “I have no idea,” he said. “It has been our pattern for many years and has nothing to do with me or our coaching staff. It’s just the players. They seem ready.”
Time for more warrior help?
Even if Curry is able to play his normal allotment of minutes, there’s a chance Golden State will expand their Game 4 rotation. Two ways to catch some action: rookies Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody. Kuminga, in particular, has a height (6-foot-8) that could counter Boston’s previous advantage.
“You never rule anything out,” Kerr said. “It’s something that we as employees discuss every day. Do we need to add another player to the rotation? Do we need to change a combo, lineup combo?”
Kuminga (9.1 minutes, 5.5 points, four DNPs) and Moody (8.6, 3.4 and seven) have seen point service in the playoffs. Still, Green sounded like he would appreciate the help.
“We’ve always relied on our depth,” he said. “I think you have to find a fine balance as a coaching staff. You don’t want to go too deep into the bank then mess up the rhythm of the guys playing the big minutes. Sometimes you want to go deeper into the bank.
“Ultimately, we trust our coaching staff and know that they get it right far more often than wrong.”
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Steve Aschburner has been writing about the NBA since 1980. You can email him here, his archive can be found here and Follow him on Twitter.
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