The Warriors weren’t exactly greeted with good news on the occasion of Steph Curry’s 30th Birthday yesterday. The two-time Most Valuable Player injured his right ankle during a match against the Spurs last week, and the prognosis following their celebration of his natal day was that he would need another week to recover — or, to be more precise, another week before being assessed anew. Which, in a nutshell means at least the next four games without him.
In this sense, fellow former MVP Kevin Durant is right. The Warriors are different in Curry’s absence. For all their talent depth, their offense draws its biggest strengths from and around him, hence their two-match losing streak. The setback against the Blazers was particularly telling, as much an indication as any of who is truly the leader of the defending champions. Needless to say, it’s also why they stay conservative when it comes to his ailments. They take the long view, and he’s critical to their success.
No doubt, the Warriors want to finish the regular season as the top seed in the West. To do so, they need to have a strong finish, especially in light of the Rockets’ inspired consistency. On the other hand, they know better than to chase after near-term objectives at the expense of their ultimate goal. Besides, they feel challenges with him in the sidelines better prepare them for any eventuality. And it definitely helps that they have Durant in the fold.
Fortunately, the Warriors have been there and done that, and know well enough to temper their expectations. They have become experts at shutting out the noise; pundits aren’t wrong to expect much from them regardless of the state of their roster, but they understand the importance of keeping their focus on the big picture. It may mean ceding the best record to the Rockets, but they’re confident of prevailing in the end.
Anthony L. Cuaycong has been writing Courtside since BusinessWorld introduced a Sports section in 1994.