Steve Kerr isn’t too worried about the Golden State Warriors pushing forward without Stephen Curry.
The point guard was diagnosed with a Grade 2 left MCL sprain in his first game back from a sprained right. The injury is expected to keep him out for at least another three weeks, which takes Golden State well into the playoffs. Kerr is already on record as stating he doesn’t see Curry playing in Round 1 at all.
Though Curry, apparently, hopes to buck this timeline, he shouldn’t count on winning the Warriors over. They—specifically, Kerr—believe they’re capable of beating anyone and everyone, irrespective of whether Curry is in the lineup.
From the Bay Area News Group’s Melissa Rohlin:
When Kerr was asked Monday about Curry’s comment, he made one thing very clear: Curry is not going to have the ultimate say in his return.
“We’ve got to protect Steph from himself,” Kerr said.
Kerr also clarified his thinking on something else.
“Regular season or playoffs, we can beat anybody in the league without Steph,” Kerr said.
Kerr isn’t wrong. The Warriors still have Kevin Durant, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson. That troika alone is enough to contend for an NBA title, let alone make it out of the first round.
Except, you know, they all need to be healthy. Which they’re not. Kevin Durant is dealing with an incomplete fracture in his ribs. Draymond Green has a hip injury. Klay Thompson is recovering from a broken thumb on his shooting hand.
Things could go sideways for the Warriors fairly quickly if they’re not at full strength beyond Steph. Consider this from Bleacher Report’s Andy Bailey:
When Stephen Curry is off the floor, Golden State is…
-27 in 95 MIN vs. LAC
-44 in 92 MIN vs. DEN
-7 in 114 MIN vs. UTA
-5 in 77 MIN vs. MIN
+5 in 129 MIN vs. SAS
+22 in 38 MIN vs. NOP
+2 in 52 MIN vs. OKChttps://t.co/dbJymIAmPP
— Andy Bailey (@AndrewDBailey) March 26, 2018
One thing the Warriors have going for them: They’re locked into the No. 2 seed. If they can pull the Minnesota Timberwolves, New Orleans Pelicans or Denver Nuggets, they should be fine. Heck, even a first-round matchup with the Spurs is cool, so long as they still don’t have Kawhi Leonard.
Beyond that, though, the Warriors really need Curry. And they need him to be Curry upon his return. We saw what happened when he wasn’t at full capacity in 2016: The Warriors collapsed against the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA Finals. This time around is different, because they have Durant, but it remains Curry who, more so than anyone, gives them their identity.