The Warriors took a 3-1 lead in their first round series against the Rockets with a 121-94 win on Sunday, but all the attention lies on Stephen Curry, who did not play in the second half after suffering a nasty fall at halftime.
Curry's injury was initially diagnosed as a right knee sprain, different from the right ankle injury suffered in Game 1 that kept him out for Games 2 and 3. Despite missing the reigning league MVP and their best player, the Warriors destroyed Houston in the second half on the heels of a 41-point third quarter that put them up by 21 headed into the final frame.
Before his injury, Curry had a quiet first half, playing 19 minutes with six points on 2-of-9 shooting with five turnovers, although he dished five assists as well. With the buzzer expiring, Curry slipped on a wet spot on the floor and collapsed awkwardly, grabbing at leg before leaving under his own power. Still, when he came out for the second half, Curry struggled to warm up and was replaced by Shaun Livingston in the starting five.
With a 3-1 lead, Golden State are the clear favorites to finish off the Rockets even if Curry can't return. They'll get a chance on Wednesday when they return home to Oracle Arena for Game 5, with Game 6 taking place on Friday if needed.
1. All eyes on Steph
Clearly, the Golden State Warriors were the favorites to win the championship this season. As the reigning champions and fresh off the best regular season in NBA history, how could they not be? But this is a cruel reminder why every champion in this league is equal parts skill and luck. Curry could be fine and back in the lineup for Game 5 like nothing happened, but if the soon-to-be two-time MVP has to miss any time, the entire championship aspirations of this team could come crumbling down before they even reach the Western Conference Finals.
Saying Curry will miss any time at all is just speculation at this point, although at least a game or two seems likely. But until we know for sure, this is incredibly worrisome.
2. The Rockets are a disgrace
The Warriors lost their best player in a game tied at halftime, and by the start of the fourth quarter, Houston trailed by 21 points. The Rockets, realizing Golden State had just shown a huge weakness and understanding they could tie the series, let the Warriors outscore them by 21! The Rockets have been embarrassing the entire season, but nothing quite tops this. This team went to the Western Conference Finals last year and now they're down 3-1 without Curry even playing two full halves of basketball. It's time for Houston's season to end before they muck things up even worse.
3. Andre Iguodala has incredible timing
Iguodala was huge in the third quarter as the Warriors pulled away, finishing the game with 22 points on 9-of-11 shooting, five rebounds and four assists. There's a good chance Iggy would have been this year's Sixth Man of the Year prior to his late season injury, and his absence for about a month towards the end of the year caused him to be overlooked and not quite as deserving of the award as he was beforehand. Still, Iguodala is such a crucial aspect to everything Golden State does, and his shotmaking has a knack for showing up exactly when the Warriors need to end a run or push ahead for good. On Sunday, he did that again.
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