Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry has been diagnosed with a sprained ligament in his left foot after undergoing an MRI and he will be reevaluated in two weeks, the team announced on Friday. X-rays after the Warriors’ game against the Boston Celtics on Wednesday reportedly did not reveal any fractures or significant structural damage. Curry will see specialists, and there is optimism that he will be available when the playoffs begin, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Ramona Shelburne.
Late in the second quarter at Chase Center, Marcus Smart collided with Curry as the Celtics guard dove on the floor for a loose ball. Curry had to check out of the game and did not return.
After the Warriors’ 110-88 loss, coach Steve Kerr called Smart’s dive “dangerous.” He also expressed his displeasure directly to Smart during the game. “He’s a hell of a player, gamer, a competitor,” Kerr told reporters. “I coached him in the World Cup a few summers ago. We talked after the game and we’re good. But I thought it was a dangerous play.”
For Golden State, a sprained ligament is far from the worst outcome — The Athletic described the diagnosis as a sigh of relief — but losing Curry is a significant setback. Only 12 regular-season games remain for the Warriors, and they wanted to use the final few weeks to solidify their rotation and find a rhythm heading into the playoffs. Klay Thompson didn’t make his debut until January and Draymond Green recently returned from an absence that lasted more than two months, so Curry has played a total of 11 minutes this season with both of them by his side.
That is a frighteningly low number, not necessarily for those three champions but for the rest of the team. Everything that Golden State does on offense revolves around Curry, and everything he does is enhanced by Green’s playmaking and Thompson’s movement. The Warriors will play the same style with Curry out, but it won’t work the same way. This season, with Curry on the court, they’ve scored 115.2 points per 100 possessions with a +10.2 point differential, according to Cleaning The Glass. Without Curry, they’ve scored 107.8 per 100 with a -5.0 point differential. James Wiseman is on the verge of his long-awaited return from a knee injury, but Gary Payton II is still out with a knee injury and Andre Iguodala is still out with a back injury. Kerr’s coaching staff will have difficult decisions to make regarding the playoff rotation, and it will be difficult to judge the many role players competing for spots when Curry is not next to them.
At 47-23, Golden State is third in the Western Conference, with a 3 1/2-game cushion over the Dallas Mavericks and Utah Jazz. “Whether we’re the No. 2 seed or No. 3 seed, we’re going to win a championship,” Green said recently, but there is now some danger that the Warriors could finish lower than that. Regardless of where they end up, though, their challenge is to coalesce quickly when Curry is able to return, then try to peak at the right time.
In 2016, Curry hurt his ankle in Game 1 of the Golden State’s first-round series against the Houston Rockets, missed the next two games and sprained his right knee in Game 4. That knee injury kept him out of the lineup for two weeks, but he returned in Game 4 of the second round against the Portland Trail Blazers. If Curry can make it back by playoff time, then the timing here isn’t nearly as disruptive. That team, however, had just finished the best regular season in NBA history, and it had won a championship the previous season. This one has a lot more to figure out.