HOUSTON (AP) — Golden State’s record-setting run toward a second consecutive NBA championship may come down to an MRI on the sprained right knee of Stephen Curry.
The NBA’s reigning MVP missed the second half of a win over the Houston Rockets in Game 4 on Sunday and was expected to have the medical test later Monday.
The Warriors have plenty of talent, but being without Curry for an extended time would present a serious challenge to their repeat bid. It would also change the dynamics of the playoffs, and not just in the Western Conference, where San Antonio finished the regular season not far behind Golden State.
Curry was injured on the final play of the first half, sliding awkwardly to the court and immediately grabbing his knee. He got up and looked to have trouble putting weight on it before jogging with a limp to the locker room. He came out with the team after halftime, but sat on the bench for most of the warmup time. After talking with coaches, he returned to the locker room.
It was his first game back after missing the last two games with a sprained right ankle.
“I just feel so bad for him,” coach Steve Kerr said. “He’s been healthy all year long and now as soon as the playoffs start, and these things start happening to him.”
The Warriors made an NBA playoff record 21 3-pointers to cruise to a 121-94 victory on Sunday to take a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.
If Curry can’t go, the Warriors will look to Shaun Livingston to make a third start in his place as they try to wrap up the series on Wednesday in Oakland. The Warriors had four players in double figures on Sunday, led by 23 from Klay Thompson.
“We got contributions from up and down the bench which was fantastic, which we’re going to need as long as we are without Steph,” Kerr said. “Even when he gets back we’re going to need them.”
Draymond Green said the team will have to bring the same intensity they had in the second half if they hope to eliminate the Rockets in Game 5.
“We’ve got to come out and take the game,” Green said. “We have to know that Steph probably won’t be playing. We can’t expect that we’re at home and it’s a done deal.”
Thompson is certainly concerned about Curry’s status but knows that they have to focus on what they have to do to win instead of feeling sorry for themselves.
“Just his presence alone on the court makes the defense gravitate to him,” Thompson said. “No one is going to make up what he does individually, we have to do it with five people. I honestly couldn’t ask for a better backup than Shaun Livingston because of the way he controls the game. He’s a mismatch for a lot of point guards.”
After his two-game layoff, Curry struggled to get going early. He was 2 of 9, including 1 of 7 on 3-pointers and had five turnovers before he was injured. He finished with six points.
“It looked like his conditioning was fine, he just couldn’t get his rhythm and I thought he was trying to do too much,” Kerr said. “I didn’t mind that he missed the shots. He was trying to get himself going with a lot of 3s, which is fine because the way Steph goes, sometimes he makes one and the floodgates open.”