After six games on the shelf following another sprain of his right ankle, Stephen Curry is “targeting a return to action” for the Golden State Warriors on Friday night against the Atlanta Hawks, according to multiple reports.
ESPN’s Chris B. Haynes and Ramona Shelburne reported that Curry — who had suffered multiple ankle injuries in the last few months before landing awkwardly on a drive less than three minutes into Golden State’s March 8 meeting with the San Antonio Spurs — “will have his right ankle re-evaluated on Tuesday.” If all goes well, and he experiences no setbacks through the rest of the week, he’ll look to return to the court on Friday at home.
The Warriors announced later on Tuesday that Curry had progressed well from his injury and plans to resume practicing on Wednesday.
Granted, the Warriors might not necessarily need the two-time MVP’s services against the rebuilding Hawks, who have lost six straight to fall into last place in the Eastern Conference at 20-50. Then again, Golden State’s been beset by injuries of late, losing their other three All-Stars — Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green — to myriad injuries that have left the defending NBA champions looking all but recognizable on the court. Nick Young led the team in minutes in Monday’s loss to the San Antonio Spurs, while second-year two-way contract guard Quinn Cook led the team in scoring … with 20 of Golden State’s 75 points, the Warriors’ lowest-scoring performance of the Steve Kerr era.
So, yes: the Warriors could stand to benefit from the return of Curry, still the centerpiece of everything they do; they’re a dominant 40-10 with him this year and a comparatively pedestrian 13-8 without him, including 2-4 during this recent six-game stint. And while it’s clear that the Warriors are adopting a “discretion is the better part of valor” approach with their top guns down the stretch, erring on the side of caution and health heading into the postseason rather than trying to chase down the West-leading Houston Rockets for the No. 1 seed — Houston’s got a 3 1/2-game lead, and a game in hand, with Golden State having played 71 to the Rockets’ 70 — they’re apparently not going to keep Curry on the sideline if he’s 100 percent ready to go.
According to Monte Poole of NBC Sports Bay Area, he is … and he’s been:
Curry was physically able to play — and actually pushed to return — last weekend, according to league sources. But the Warriors, looking ahead to the playoffs and seeing diminished value in the remaining regular-season games, opted to continue rehabilitation in hopes of maximizing support for the area around his ankle.
The Warriors have described Curry’s injury not as a sprain but a “tweak,” implying less severity.
The concern, of course, is that Curry could pick up another tweak over the season’s final three weeks that could further compromise his availability and effectiveness as the Warriors set about trying to reach their fourth straight NBA Finals and defending their championship. If player and team both agree that he’s ready to resume activity, though, there’s no sense in keeping one of the sport’s leading lights under a bushel any longer than necessary. (Unless, that is, you’re a Hawks fan. Then I can probably think of a reason or two.)
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