Just when the Warriors thought they had Stephen Curry back, the injury bug struck again. After missing several games due to recurring ankle problems, Curry suffered a Grade 2 MCL sprain in his first game back and will be re-evaluated in three weeks, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. The NBA Playoffs begins in three weeks.
That three-week timetable is optimistic given the severity of the injury. The more likely scenario is that Curry will miss the beginning of the playoffs, much like Kevin Durant did when he suffered the same exact injury last year. Durant went down on Feb. 28 and did not return until the last week of the regular season.
You also might recall Curry’s Grade 1 MCL sprain in the 2016 playoffs. That injury sidelined him for the end of the first round and the first three games of the second round, and also may have limited him enough throughout the rest of the playoffs to deny Golden State a repeat championship, depending on your point of view.
This comes on the heels of Curry’s relapsed ankle issues
Warriors head coach Steve Kerr told reporters Thursday that Curry wouldn’t be 100 percent any time soon, even though he was on target to return from his ankle injury Friday for their matchup against the Atlanta Hawks.
Steve Kerr on Steph Curry's ankle: "I wouldn't say it's 100 percent healthy. I think a summer will ultimately do him some good. I think there's things to be gained from a summer of some rest and specific rehab that we won't be able to address now." pic.twitter.com/zqg15g3cO8— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) March 22, 2018
“He’s as close to 100 percent healthy as can be. I wouldn’t say it’s 100 percent healthy,” Kerr said, via The Athletic’s Anthony Slater. “I think there’s things to be gained from a summer of some rest and specific rehab that we won’t be able to address now. Everything we have been able to address, we’ve addressed. I think he’s good. But I wouldn’t tell you he’s 100 percent.”
Curry then hurt his knee after JaVale McGee ran into him. It wasn’t directly related to his ankle issues.
Steph exits the game after JaVale lands on his left leg pic.twitter.com/oxuJkHe2N0— Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) March 24, 2018
Curry already had his fair share of nagging injuries this season
He will likely end the year playing in only 50 of Golden State’s 82 regular-season games. First he missed a game against Orlando with a bruised thigh. It was odd — Kevin Durant had the exact same thigh contusion the week before.
But then the injuries started piling up. He had a swollen hand that sidelined him for two games in late November. A week later, Curry endured a gnarly ankle sprain against the Pelicans when he mistimed an attempt to jump the passing lane. The injury kept him out for 11 games.
On Jan. 8, he injured his knee attempting to finish a layup in transition.
Steph Curry has gone back to the locker room, here is the play he was hurt on pic.twitter.com/Sd8HQWzNl5— Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) January 9, 2018
Then on March 8 against the Spurs, it was another contested layup in transition that sent Curry hobbling to the locker room.
With the Warriors geared towards May and June, they had been conservative in bringing Curry back. Will that change now that the postseason is on the horizon.
As annoying as those ankle injuries are, they were once lot worse
We’re only a few seasons removed from Curry’s massive ankle injury and the many minor ankle tweaks that surrounded it. There were 11 ankle injuries in his career before this season.
Somehow, Curry only went one season missing extended games. He underwent ankle surgery in the summer of 2011 and played in only 26 games the following season. That was before anyone even thought of him as one of the league’s best point guards, let alone a two-time league Most Valuable Player.
Those questions about his ankle also contributed to him signing a mere four-year, $44 million contract extension, which made him comically underpaid once he emerged as an MVP.
For the most part, Curry’s been mostly injury proof since that season. He’s played in 78 or more games in each of the five seasons leading into this one, though he slipped on a wet spot and missed two weeks in the 2016 playoffs. Now, though, it seems some of Curry’s old injury troubles may be revisiting him.
Curry will return at some point in the postseason, but the Warriors will need him at full capacity if they’re going to make it to their fourth straight NBA Finals appearance, especially with the Rockets playing the way they have this season.