There is “no way” Stephen Curry returns for the NBA playoffs first round, according to Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr.
Curry twisted his right ankle against the San Antonio Spurs on March 9 which resulted in him missing six consecutive games for the Warriors. The two-time Most Valuable Player (MVP) returned Friday against the Atlanta Hawks only to suffer a knee strain when teammate JaVale McGee landed on him as he attempted to block a shot.
Curry was forced off in the third quarter of the game as an MRI later revealed he suffered a Grade 2 MCL sprain and will miss the rest of the regular season.
The setback comes as an additional blow for the reigning NBA champions who have already been without the likes of various key players such as Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green.
In addition, since Curry was forced off against the Spurs earlier this month, the Warriors have all but conceded first place in the Western Conference to the Houston Rockets, having lost five of their next eight games, including their most recent 110-91 loss to the Utah Jazz at the Oracle Arena on Sunday night.
“There’s no way he’s playing in the first round,” Kerr revealed before the loss to the Jazz. “There’s no way. I mean, he’ll be re-evaluated in three weeks. So, yeah, we have to be ready to play without him and see how he’s coming along.”
The 30-year-old’s reevaluation date is on April 14 which is three days after the regular season ends. According to ESPN, the Akron native is still “in good spirits” and is planning to return in the best shape possible.
However, it’s not the first time Curry will miss games during the playoffs as he also suffered a Grade 1 MCL sprain during the playoffs in 2016 which saw him miss four games and 15 days. The Warriors also experienced this when Durant suffered a Grade 2 MCL sprain in February last year as he went on to miss 19 games before returning to help the Bay Area side win a second NBA title in three years.
“The good thing is we’ve been through this,” Kerr added. “We’ve went through it last year with KD … It wasn’t exactly the same timeline, but it was a similar injury and similar circumstances where we had to play without one of our best players. And we felt that appropriate fear and turned it up and got it going — and then when KD came back, Finals MVP after missing six weeks. So, there’s a lot of similarities here, and I think we should feel good about our ability to play through this stuff.”
“And we also know that Steph has a history of coming back strong from injuries. So, there’s a good chance, if all goes well, that he comes back during the playoffs at some point and we’re at full steam. So, that’s the goal and that’s our plan,” he said.
Meanwhile, Durant, who has been out since March 14 with rib soreness, could return for Tuesday’s game against the Indiana Pacers while Klay Thompson could return from a fractured thumb for Saturday’s game against the Sacramento Kings.
Green was to play against the Jazz after recovering from a pelvic contusion but missed the heavy loss due to flu.