Why Steph Curry's presence will decide whether Golden State seal a repeat or not
The injury saga continues to get worse with the Golden State Warriors, but it's not as bad as Stephen Curry thinks it is. Having missed a few matches with an ankle injury, he returned this past Friday evening against the Atlanta Hawks.
Despite scoring 29 points during their comfortable victory, he sprained his knee in the second half of that game after an accidental collision with a team-mate and did not return.
Head coach Steve Kerr has ruled out any involvement from Curry during the first round of this year's NBA play-offs, due to a grade two MCL sprain. They do not start for another few weeks yet, which is not a very good sign as the end of the first-round could be as late as early May.
Naturally, Curry will do all he can to return quickly and prove his head coach's diagnosis wrong. With that being said, the 30-year-old needs to be careful in order to recover properly and avoid the dangers that come with aggravating an injury that has not fully healed.
Assessing Curry's impact on the floor
Klay Thompson (fractured thumb), Kevin Durant (ribs), Draymond Green (flu-like symptoms) are all currently sidelined too, but will be back sooner rather than later.
Curry's impact on their game is so much more different than any of the aforementioned trio, who are all-stars in their own right, but do not have the same attributes he possesses. His ability to spread the floor is tough for opposing defenders to contend with, as they struggle to second guess what he's going to do in time to stop him.
He has the ability to shoot the three ball at a high percentage, whilst passing is an under-rated asset within his armoury too. He penetrates defences, while also drawing fouls when driving towards the basket.
This term, he's only played 51 regular season matches and averaged 26.4 points, 5.1 rebounds and 6.1 assists per game. He has also shot 92.1% from the free throw line, as well as 42.3% from three.
Given their quality, they're expected to win their first and potentially second-round series matches even in Curry's absence - the latter will depend on the matchup. If they face the Oklahoma City Thunder or San Antonio Spurs for instance, there could be a potential upset on the cards without their star man on the floor.
If Curry is not healthy, I don't believe the Golden State Warriors could currently beat the Houston Rockets in a seven-game series. I get that Draymond Green is an all-star, Klay is a terrific three-point shooter and defender while Durant is arguably the NBA's second best player, but there's something about Curry's presence on the court which helps make their offense gel more as a unit.
The last time a team managed to successfully repeat in the NBA was during the 2009/10 season with the LA Lakers and with that in mind, it will not be plain sailing this time around for GSW. Another injury to Curry or anyone else for that matter upon their return from respective injuries could prove a devastating blow in their pursuit of a consecutive NBA Finals victory.