Stephen Curry suffered a right knee sprain in the third quarter of the Warriors 121-94 win over the Houston Rockets. The severity of the injury is not known at this time, an MRI is scheduled to take place later today.
The shadow that Curry’s injury casts of the entirety of the NBA Playoffs is enormous. Even if the MRI results come up negative and Curry is only dealing with a slight knee sprain, it leaves the MVP at less than 100 percent and the Warriors are going to need Curry to be spectacular if they hope to finish off their historic season with a championship.
As much fun as it is to have a completely open field in the Playoffs, their are no narratives that carry as much import as the Warriors quest for the greatest season in NBA history. This is not to knock the other teams in the league, but if Curry’s injury proves to be serious it will be one of the greatest lost opportunities in the history of professional sports. Let’s all keep our fingers crossed that Steph will be able to come back this year and compete at a high level.
The irony of all of this is that the Rockets were playing well until Curry’s injury. The duo of James Harden and Dwight Howard were keeping the game close, and Houston was playing better basketball than Golden State for much of the first half of the game. After Curry left things completely fell apart for the Rockets. The Warriors scored 41 points in the third quarter, and took what was a tie game at half time and made it a 97-76 trouncing going into the final period.
It’s hard to see Houston winning game five whether or not Curry plays. There is a palpable uneasiness around the Rockets players. A lot was made out of the benches reaction to Harden’s game winning shot in game three, but I think more telling is the look on Harden’s face whenever Dwight Howard misses a free throw or when another of his teammates misses a wide open three on one of his passes. This has the feel of a team that is desperate need of breaking up, and I think that starts sooner rather than later.
The San Antonio Spurs and Cleveland Cavaliers both completed their sweeps yesterday, and are looking in top form as they now start their long wait to see who their opponents will be in round two.
I fully expect the Thunder to finish off the long suffering Mavericks tonight at home. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook were both handed some hefty fines after Russ berated a fan and Durant’s flagrant two foul in game four, but neither were given suspensions. I don’t think this will be Dirk Nowitzki’s last game, but if it is I hope the big German scores 40. Long live the one legged jump shot!
Both the Clippers/Trail Blazers (2-1) and Pacers/Raptors (2-2) have the makings of six or seven game series. I think the keys in both series is whether or not the Trailer Blazers and Raptors can get their second best players (DeRozan/McCollum) going. McCollum had a huge three for the Blazers, scoring 27 points and carrying his squad when Lillard was not on the court. DeRozan had another off night (8 PTS, 4-15 FG, 0-2 3PT) in the Toronto’s game four loss to Indiana. The Raptors do not have enough threats on offense to win series with DeRozan getting his usual 20 PTS a game.
The best series of round one has been the Celtics and Hawks. Game four last night ended in spectacular fashion, as Boston was able to rally late and win 104-95 in overtime. The game came down to Celtics coach Brad Stevens finding the right answer on defense to Paul Millsap, who was torching Boston.
Millsap scored 45 points in the loss, doing damage from in close and from deep. Steven’s put Marcus Smart on Millsap in the fourth quarter and Smart played brilliantly, completely stifling the big man in the final minutes while making big plays on offense in the Celtics comeback. Smart is a really fun player to watch, he is inconsistent of offense, and does not always make the right decision, but his defense and energy make up for whatever he may be lacking in basketball I.Q.
Isaiah Thomas continued to hit big shots for Boston, scoring 28 points in the win with five of coming in the overtime period. This coming off of his heroic 42 point performance in game three. He is the reason that this series is now tied up at two games apiece. Thomas is quickly becoming a household name in Boston, and will a focal point for Atlanta in the all important game five that will take place in Atlanta tomorrow night.
In news that will make any educated basketball fan rejoice, the Lakers have chosen to let Bryon Scott walk. Scott has been one of the worst coaches in recent history, showing little knowledge of how the modern NBA works in terms of personnel decisions, and when it comes to basic principles of offense and defense. He was not the right coach for a rebuilding team in any sense other than the Lakers were a terrible team that will be in the lottery for the third year in a row.
It burns a little as a Lakers fan that Tom Thibodeau expressed interest in taking the Lakers coaching job, but was turned away because Thibs reportedly wanted control over personnel decisions. Thibodeau would have been a great coach for guys like Clarkson, Russell and Randle, and would have provided some legitimacy to the franchise as they chase free agents in these next two all-important off seasons.
The other obvious candidate for the job is Luke Walton, who played his entire Career for the Lakers and is the hottest person left in the market. Walton has not expressed outright his interest in leaving his assistant job with the Warriors, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he stays for a least one more year under the tutorage of Steve Kerr.
This is an important off season for Los Angeles. If the Lakers are fortunate enough to land a top two pick and do well in free agency, they will have the foundation of a team that can compete in the Western Conference for the foreseeable future – that’s if they can find a coach with the talent and patience to build up the team’s young core. I’m not sure if that coach is out there, or if Jim Buss (president of basketball operations) has the wherewithal to pick the right guy, but getting rid of Byron Scott was the best decision this organization has made in a long while. Here’s to hoping it’s the start of a better era for the purple and gold.