Stephen Curry's right leg has been the source of considerable angst in the last few days. It is the leg that takes the weight of the man who has the weight of an expectant crowd and a record season on his shoulders.
First, there was the ankle injury from game one that saw the reigning MVP miss the following two encounters. Now, the knee injury from game four could have serious repercussions.
Curry wasn't having the best night up to that point. The 28-year-old made two shots for nine attempts, only good for 22 per cent and six points. Then tragedy struck.The MVP-elect slipped on a streak of sweat and landed awkwardly as time elapsed in the second-quarter. He and the entire Dub Nation shared a collective wince.
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The man himself was short on the matter: “I slipped, I fell, I hurt...My team is awesome. The end,” he said, via the San Francisco Chronicle.
Early reports point to a sprained MCL (Medial Collateral Ligament), but Curry will have an MRI scan on Monday. Coach Steve Kerr will hope for a sprain to be the diagnosis, especially since a tear would rule Curry out for a while. Depending on the severity, he could miss the remainder of the season.
As per Yahoo Sports, Kerr said: "I feel awful for him. Hopefully, he's going to be OK, before too long. We don’t know. I just feel so bad for him," Kerr said. "He’s been healthy all year long, all of a sudden the playoffs start and a couple of fluke things. Feel bad for Steph, but we've got to move on."
Kerr can take solace, however, in his team's second-half performance. Without Curry, Draymond Green and co. managed a blowout courtesy of a 41 to 20 third-quarter. Klay Thompson finished with 23 points.
This all begs the question: What can the Warriors do sans Curry?
In the short-term, the defending champions will feel confident of claiming the series on Wednesday in Oakland. The Oracle has been a fortress for them this season and defeat, even without their King, is unlikely.
The Rockets looked a mixture of despondent, disinterested and tired midway through Sunday night. James Harden's own brand of indifferent defence was exploited to maximum effect by a similar side to the likely line-up in game five.
As for the Western Conference as a whole, the L.A Clippers are the overwhelmingly probable opponent for the semi-finals. Only something miraculous from Portland would deprive Blake Griffin et al of a meeting with Golden State.
In that match-up, the Warriors will have a chance even though it may be diminished in Curry's absence. But it would be a tough task, especially with Blake Griffin returning to the fold. Thompson will be deployed to guard Chris Paul, as he did in the regular season.
Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala are both well-versed in running the plays, but none of the players nor some coaching mastery from Steve Kerr can make up for the loss of Curry.
During the regular season, the Dubs went 12-1 against the Cavaliers, Spurs, Thunder, and Clippers. Before Curry's injuries, it seemed as though this fairytale season would have a happy ending. Now it seems more like a horror saga. LeBron James' Cavs would fancy their chances in this story, but the Spurs would feel like they could send Tim Duncan on his way with a sixth ring.
Only time will tell if Warriors can repeat. Curry has to wait until the results come back from his scan. Suddenly, all that weight falls on an MRI machine in the Bay Area.