By Melissa Rohlin
FOX Sports NBA Writer
Steph Curry insisted he was all right.
Each pained step that Curry took served as a searing reminder that the Warriors’ chances of winning a championship hinge on their superstar’s health, and “all right” is a tenuous platitude that falls infinitely short of the level they need him to play at to win.
Curry suffered what he said felt like a left foot sprain with just more than four minutes left after he and Al Horford dove for a loose ball following a missed shot by Jayson Tatum. Horford, who weighs 55 pounds more than Curry, fell onto his leg as a pile of players formed on top of them.
Stephen Curry emerged from this fourth-quarter scrum for a loose ball with a left foot injury. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
After the pile was cleared, Curry remained on his back, wincing in pain. He held his fists over his eyes as he stomped his feet. Curry went on to play more than another minute and a half before being subbed out of the game with 2:19 left and the Warriors down 114-100.
After Golden State officially fell into a 2-1 series hole against the Celtics, there was a somber undertone as the team spoke to reporters, a marked change from the defiant confidence the Warriors projected after their Game 1 loss.
This time, their superstar was injured.
And that changes everything.
“I am really hoping he’s OK because he’s our identity,” said Klay Thompson, who finally broke free of the shooting slump that haunted him all series with 25 points, including five 3-pointers. “Without him, it will be very difficult.”
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Steph Curry and the Warriors are among those feeling the pressure this week according to Chris Broussard.
Curry is the Warriors’ identity. He’s their understated leader who emanates ineffable joy as he erupts for dazzling scoring spurts, leaving defenders as wide-eyed as the roughly 12 million viewers watching him from their couches around the nation.
Without Curry at his best, the Warriors don’t stand a chance. They’ve struggled this series to find a reliable second scorer behind him, with Thompson, Jordan Poole and Andrew Wiggins all playing inconsistently.
“I’ll be all right,” Curry said. “I got caught underneath Al. Obviously, there will be some pain, but I’ll be all right.”
Curry compared his most recent injury to the left foot sprain he suffered against the Celtics on March 16, though he added this one is “not as bad.”
That’s hardly comforting news for the Warriors, considering the previous foot sprain sidelined Curry for the final two weeks of the regular season. He didn’t play again for another month, and came off the bench in the team’s first four games against the Denver Nuggets in the first round of the playoffs.
Now, he has less than 48 hours before Game 5 on Friday.
Curry, however, remained optimistic that he’ll be on the court for that critical game, in which the Celtics, with a win, could creep one victory away from eliminating the Warriors.
“I don’t feel like I’ll miss a game,” said Curry, who had a game-high 31 points in 37 minutes on 12-for-22 shooting, including going 6-for-11 from beyond the arc.
The Warriors can only hope he’s right.
Curry has been their guiding light in the Finals. In Game 3, he had 15 points in the third quarter to turn an 18-point deficit into a one-point advantage (83-82) with 3:35 left in the period, making four of his five 3-point attempts.
And in the team’s lone win in Game 2, he exploded for 14 of his 29 points in the third quarter as the Warriors turned a two-point halftime advantage into a 23-point blowout in the period.
After Game 3, Green didn’t pull any punches.
After finishing with two points, four rebounds, three assists and six fouls, he said he played “like s—.” And when asked about Curry’s injury, he acknowledged, “You always worry.”
Draymond Green struggles in Warriors’ Game 3 loss
Who should Warriors fans be pointing fingers at for Golden State’s Game 3 loss to the Celtics? Nick Wright says Draymond Green.
He won’t be alone.
It will be an unsettling two days for the Warriors as they monitor their superstar’s health.
This much is clear: The Warriors need Curry to be at the top of his game to have a chance against the Celtics. The Celtics are too deep, too skilled and too tenacious to be subverted by a hobbled version of Curry.
Now, the Warriors hopes of winning a fourth championship are tenuous.
Their fragility has been exposed by Curry’s limp, and they can only wait with bated breath to see if he’ll be healthy enough to be himself.
For the Warriors to be all right, Curry needs to be spectacular.
If he’s just all right, it’s all over.
Melissa Rohlin is an NBA writer for FOX Sports. She previously covered the league for Sports Illustrated, the Los Angeles Times, the Bay Area News Group and the San Antonio Express-News. Follow her on Twitter at @melissarohlin.
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