The NBA playoffs have not been kind to the reigning NBA champions in their first four games. Steph Curry has had an injury riddled post season, first hurting his ankle in game one against the Rockets, sitting out games two and three, and then injuring his knee in game four after taking an awkward spill. The injury was originally diagnosed as a sprained knee, but more tests are likely to come to determine the true injury.
Curry has had injury problems before, as he missed the majority of the 2012 season with a multitude of ankle ailments. After a record setting season for Curry (400 three pointers in a season) and his Warriors (73 wins), their quest for a repeat could be put on hold. Curry’s injury begs the question; can the Warriors win it without Steph?
The Warriors were tied when Curry went out at halftime, and despite the loss of their best player, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson picked up the slack and led the Dubs to a 121-94 victory to take a 3-1 series lead.
While Curry is likely to sit out game five against Houston, the Warriors should be fine without him for one game, but will they be able to win a full seven game series without him?
In an absolutely stacked Western Conference, especially at the top, getting past the Semi-Finals becomes extremely difficult. Golden State will draw the winner of the Clippers Trailblazers series, and both of those teams have played the Warriors tough this season, even with Curry in the lineup.
If the Warriors draw Portland, it is going to be extremely tough for them to contain Damian Lillard, even though Curry didn’t do much of that to begin with. Portland has an extremely explosive offense, and the only way that the Warriors have been able to beat them is with their own high powered offense that was first in the NBA in scoring. The head of that high powered snake is Curry, and if he’s not available, Portland would give them a scare.
However, if the Warriors get Los Angeles, who is up 2-1 in that series, it would be a much more competitive series. The Warriors swept the Clippers in the regular season, but every game was close. In one of those victories, the Clippers blew a 23 point lead. Stopping the big man combo of Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan will prove difficult, but Curry owns fellow point Chris Paul, going 15-8 in head-to-matchups leading back to Curry’s rookie season. Curry has won six in a row against Paul, but without Curry, Paul could finally get the playoff monkey off his back.
If the Warrriors do make it through their Semi-Final matchup, they’ll likely have to play either the San Antonio Spurs or the Oklahoma City Thunder, two of the five best teams in the league.
Against Oklahoma City, the Warriors swept the three game series, with two of those games being instant classics. Mixed in that three game sweep was a 121-118 overtime victory in which Curry hit an unbelievable game winner.
OKC features two of the top five players in the world in Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant, and without Curry, Golden State wouldn’t stand a chance in a seven game series.
As for the Spurs, Golden State won three out of four against San Antonio in the regular season, with Curry going for 37 in two of those meetings. Curry has a clear advantage over Tony Parker, who just isn’t quick enough on defense to guard Curry would have more freedom on the offensive end to create for guys like LaMarcus Aldridge and Kawhi Leonard.
With Curry out, Leonard can focus on covering fellow Splash Brother Klay Thompson and Aldridge can try and cover Draymond Green.
However, the coaching and experience of San Antonio would be too much for the Warriors to handle without Stephen Curry.
Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Harrison Barnes are all solid players, but nobody on the roster can replace Curry’s production. The road to the Finals wasn’t going to be easy in the first place, but with Curry either not going to be able to play or not at 100%, I don’t think the Warriors could repeat without Steph Curry running the show. He’s the face of the NBA and without him, the Warriors don’t stand a chance.
Cover Photo via ESPN
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