OAKLAND, Calif. — The Golden State Warriors are preparing to play without NBA MVP Stephen Curry for Game 2 of their playoff series against Houston as he nurses an ankle injury.
Even if they know he will beg and plead to play through any pain. As long as he can’t make it worse, Curry insists it will be hard to keep him off the court Monday night.
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“Oh, yeah, for sure,” coach Steve Kerr said of Curry campaigning to play. “When Steph’s out, our guys understand that he’s not there to count on, so they have to execute. If they don’t, we’re just not going to score enough points.”
Kerr called Curry’s status questionable again Sunday, when the point guard didn’t practice a day after hurting his right ankle late in the first half of a 104-78 win over the Rockets in the playoff opener.
“Steph is a warrior. If he can play, he’s definitely going to be out there,” center Festus Ezeli said.
Curry was undergoing treatment on the ankle Sunday and unavailable for interviews.
“He’s doing a little better than yesterday,” Kerr said. “He’ll get some rest, get off his feet and we’ll do the same thing tomorrow at shootaround and see how he’s feeling.”
If Curry can’t play Monday, Shaun Livingston will start in his place. The Warriors won at Houston on Dec. 31 without their superstar.
“It kind of changes things. We don’t seem to be as good of a coaching staff when Steph goes out — I don’t know why,” Kerr joked after practice. “We’ve got a lot of guys who can play. I think Steph missed three or four games this year. We did fine. Obviously we’ve got to find different ways to score. We’ll prepare for that and see what happens.”
Golden State’s backups have prided themselves all season in not losing a step when the second team comes into the game. In fact, contributions by the bench were a big reason the Warriors set the NBA record with 73 wins to top the 1995-96 Michael Jordan-led Chicago Bulls that Kerr played for.
“We’re prepared. We’re going to continue to play. We’re ready to step in,” said power forward Marreese Speights, who scored 12 points in 15 minutes off the bench Saturday. “We’ve got a lot of guys who can play and will impact the game. We know Steph, when his 30 points are taken off the board — or really 60 points with all the stuff he’s doing on the court, playing defense, passing the ball, helping, controlling the offense — but we’ll be all right.”
Curry landed awkwardly shortly before halftime Saturday.
“I just tried to change direction, missed the shot, and tried to get back on defense, and then slipped a little bit and felt it slip or tweak,” he said after the game.
Andrew Bogut knows it will take a lot for Curry not to play. The positive if he does sit is the Warriors have until Thursday to get him healthy for Game 3 at Houston.
“He’s the MVP. Take the MVP out of the lineup and there will be some tweaks and changes made,” Bogut said. “You know Steph’s a competitor. He wants to play every game he can.”