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Stephen Curry’s return to the Warriors felt like he never left

Curry brought joy to the Warriors in his first game back from injury.

NBA: Toronto Raptors at Golden State Warriors Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

Steph Curry’s NBA return for his first game since fracturing his hand in October was fun as hell, even though the Warriors lost, 121-113, to the Raptors at home. It took Curry until the second quarter to get rolling scoring the ball, but once he was on, he never let up.

Vintage Curry was back. He finished the night with 23 points on 6-of-16 shooting, seven assists and seven rebounds in 27 minutes. It was as if nothing out of the norm had happened to him in the last five months.

I mean, look at this pass he threw in the first two minutes he was on the floor:

And what is there to even say about this shot:

Or this reverse lay-in:

Heck, even LeBron James was super excited:

To put the entire night into one word, Curry’s return was joyous. He had the whole building smiling, from exhausted Warriors fans to his new teammates to Draymond Green and Klay Thompson on the bench. Curry was shooting the ball at the same ridiculous lengths as normal, often off-balance and contested. And he was fired up after each of his makes.

Nothing about this game should’ve been easy for Curry.

Aside from playing his first NBA game in 127 days, the only player on the court he played with last year was Damion Lee. Otherwise he shared the floor with new-acquisition Andrew Wiggins, and a number of players you’ve barely heard of including Juan Toscano-Anderson, Marquese Chiss, Eric Paschall, Mychal Mulder, Jordan Poole and Dragan Bender. He was also playing in a new arena he’d only played in twice before, with high expectations after a long-anticipated return.

It didn’t matter. Curry was Curry. And the Warriors even had a chance to win this game against the No. 2 seed in the East. Golden State trailed by just three points with 63 seconds left.

Where do Curry and the Warriors go from here?

Curry’s return, despite the Warriors currently owning the worst record in the NBA, is all about preparing for next season. He needs to get acclimated with Wiggins (and Green, when he returns from injury), and the Warriors need to find out who else will be part of this team’s rotation going forward.

“[Curry] came out of the game feeling good,” Steve Kerr said, per The Athletic’s Anthony Slater. “We can ramp up his minutes from here.”

There’s no rush to any of this, as the Warriors have 20 games left in the season and nothing substantial to play for. Klay Thompson isn’t coming back and the team is trailing the Grizzlies by 17.5 games for the No. 8 seed.

Curry, Thompson, Wiggins and Green is a heckuva start to a team. The final 20 games of this season will be used to show Kerr how he can make the pieces fit for a 2021 run without Kevin Durant.