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The Warriors’ biggest mess in the Kevin Durant era highlights the importance of Steph Curry

Things aren’t well in Golden State. There’s one obvious person who can fix it.

Washington Wizards v Golden State Warriors Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

The Warriors are experiencing one of their worst blips in a five-year dynasty filled with mostly happiness, rings and three-point swooshes. Just days after Draymond Green and Kevin Durant clashed, resulting in Green’s suspension, the Warriors played one of their least inspiring games of the KD era, losing to the Rockets by 21 points.

Through the mess, it’s becoming more and more apparent that the Warriors need one thing above all: a healthy Stephen Curry.

Three of the Warriors’ four losses this season have come in the absence of Curry, who’s expected to miss more than a week longer to a groin injury. And the team’s record without him pales in importance to the morale boost he brings to a volatile assortment of hot-headed co-stars.

“We’re banged up a little bit physically, and right now we’re banged up spiritually,” head coach Steve Kerr said after the team’s loss to Houston. “There’s no getting around that.”

The Warriors’ basketball struggles without Curry are apparent

Since Durant joined the team in 2016, the Warriors are a mere 21-18 in games without Curry in the lineup, according to StatMuse. The Warriors sink 2.8 fewer three-point shots per game, shoot 2.2 percent worse from the field, and subsequently dish 3.2 fewer assists per night. They’re a fraction of themselves when he doesn’t play.

Without Durant in the lineup, the Warriors have instead marched on. The team has gone 25-9, sinking just 0.1 fewer threes on 1.8 percent worse shooting, dishing .5 fewer assists. That’s not to minimize Durant’s importance — he’s one of the league’s best! But Curry has his imprint in everything this team does; he’s Golden State’s real MVP.

That was on watch as a middling Houston team dismantled the reigning champs. A team known historically for its three-point rate took just 18 attempts and made four. (Houston made 16 on 47 tries.) Golden State lived in the long-two range, and swiftly died by it as the team’s starters combined to shoot 14-of-40 (35 percent) from the field.

The offense was a wreck, turning the ball over 16 times to just 18 assists. Curry’s sorely missed, but in more ways than one.

The Warriors need a mental boost from Curry, too

We may never know all of the details about what went on between Durant and Green in their locker room spat, but we know it must’ve been bad if the Warriors chose to suspend their defensive anchor. It’s unclear what Curry could’ve done, if anything, to diffuse the situation, but this segment of Yahoo’s Chris Haynes’ story on the debacle says it all:

Klay Thompson, who is typically reserved, spoke up in the locker room to the surprise of his teammates about the altercation and stressed the importance of sticking together, sources said.

If Thompson felt the need to step up, things must’ve truly gotten ugly, and it feels as if that role would’ve been assumed by Curry, who wasn’t at the game due to his injury.

Curry did travel with the team to Houston, though, where he was seen joking with Green, Durant and DeMarcus Cousins. Green said postgame that he “was the butt of a few jokes.”

It sounds cliche to talk about the important of someone who’s viewed as a leader in the locker room, but in situations like these, a voice can be the remedy for all. And that voice in this locker room is Curry’s.

And Curry has more to help fix. Durant and Green are clearly still not ok as evidenced by his tone after KD was asked about it by media.

“Don’t ask me about that,” he said sternly.

But hopefully, for Golden State’s sake, from here on out, Curry’s presence will lift the Warriors in an analytical and emotional sense. It’s what an MVP does.