By Keith Allison [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Mere seconds were left in the first half of the fourth game of the Western Conference first round series between the Golden State Warriors and the Houston Rockets. The score was 56 – 56. Trevor Ariza was hurrying to get off a half-decent shot before the buzzer sounded but the only thing anyone could see was Steph Curry sliding awkwardly and dropping to the floor.
As Ariza’s shot bounced off the rim, Curry grabbed his knee while his teammates gathered around him. He got up, but had to limp off the court. Everyone who was not a die-hard Rockets fan (and probably most of them too) watched worriedly as the obvious MVP and best player this year hobbled away, trying to figure exactly how much it hurt.
Curry did not return for the second half and really did not need to as his team demolished the Rockets in the second half, outscoring them 65 – 38 over the next two quarters. The Warriors now have a 3-1 lead in the series and they are all but through to Western Conference Semi-Finals.
The big question, however, is whether their best player will be able to play.
We are not saying that the Warriors are not a decent team without Curry, because they are. They could probably handle most teams in the league even with the MVP sidelined, but these are the playoffs. Also, regardless of how balanced a team they are and how good Klay Thompson and Draymond Green are, their opponents will have a much easier job defending against a team devoid of its best player and leading scorer.
They will breeze through against the Rockets. The Houston team checked out even before the playoffs started and it would take much more than a Steph Curry injury to complicate this series. However, the next series will see the Warriors pitted against either Los Angeles Clippers or Portland Trail Blazers.
These are two much more serious teams, both perfectly capable of beating a Curry-less Warriors team, especially since knocking out the reigning champs is always a particularly sweet success.
And even if they manage to go through to the Conference Finals without Curry, the Warriors will have to face either the San Antonio Spurs of the Oklahoma City Thunder (barring any miracles). Both those teams could give the reigning champs a run for their money even with Curry, let alone without him.
Two things are for sure. For one, Curry’s injury is complicating things. Secondly, everyone is hoping his injury is nothing serious.