Before we let this panic storm burn, let’s take a second and look at the big picture. Yes, Steph Curry may very well be out for the next two weeks. Yes, it could be even longer than that, depending on how the May 1 re-evaluation of his knee goes, but let’s look at the big picture. Chris Paul is out for the rest of the season with a broken hand. Blake Griffin is done for the postseason after re-injuring his quad. And the Portland Trail Blazers are a one-man show.
So sure, Steph may not be around for the next two plus weeks, but doomsday isn’t following him.
Let’s lay out some scenarios. First, let’s go with the best-case scenario: L.A. and Portland goes seven games.
Currently, Game 7 is scheduled for Sunday, May 1, the one week point of Steph’s two-week re-evaluation period. So, assuming Golden State closes out Houston on Wednesday night, Game 1 would, in all likelihood, fall on that following Tuesday or Wednesday. Let’s say Wednesday, because the league wants the L.A.-Portland winner to rest up a little. So Game 1 is Wednesday and Game 2 falls on Friday. They get two days off for travel, or maybe three games off like the OKC-San Antonio series is getting, and that puts Game 3 on Monday night. Not too bad huh?
Now consider who they may be playing. The Clippers are going to be missing their two best players while the Warriors still have their second and third best players, not to mention arguably the deepest bench in the NBA, you’ll take the Warriors.
But the Clippers are without their two best players for the Portland series as well, and Damian Lillard powers the Blazers through in seven games. So Portland has their best player in the game, but with a team that was supposed to be in rebuild mode, you’ll take the Warriors.
So Golden State sits, come May 8, has – you’d have to assume, considering the scenario – a 2-0 lead in the Conference Semi Finals, Steph still rehabbing but in no dire need to return. Not so bad now is it?
But again, L.A. is missing their two stars for games five, six, and (if necessary) seven. So they drop the next two, including Game 6 on the road, and the series ends on Friday. That means Game 1 kicks off on Monday May 2, with Game 2 on Wednesday and Game 3 coming on Saturday. So Steph is re-evaluated after a three game series against Portland in which the Trail Blazers (maybe) steal a game, making it 2-1. Still worried that the Warriors might not advance?
I understand the initial fears. Without Steph and a fully healthy Clippers team, the chances were about as good of a coin flip as you can get. But now, without the superstars in L.A., the Warriors have to be seen in a bright light, albeit significantly dimmer.
The key will still hang on May 8 when Steph is re-evaluated. If he’s not making any progress, then the fears in Golden State will continue to flow. The odds Golden State makes it through either San Antonio or Oklahoma City without Steph are slim at best, and even if he isn’t at 100% it becomes a much closer series than people would have expected. But the Warriors won 73 games and got themselves the best possible draws in the postseason. They only have to go through San Antonio or OKC, not both, and now the test that could’ve been L.A. is gone almost completely.
We tend to, as a society, ignore the long-term view while staring the short-term down like an upset parent about to scold a misbehaving child, but Steve Kerr and the Warriors took the long-term view when seeing Steph’s ankle/foot injury, it’s time we did the same.