Steph Curry is facing a critical test that could determine his availability for the playoffs, and with it the title hopes of the Golden State Warriors.
Curry has been out since March 17 with an injured foot, leading the Warriors to shut him down for the remainder of the regular season to allow him to focus on a return in the playoffs. As the San Francisco Chronicle’s Connor Letourneau reported, Curry will be facing a critical test on Thursday that could determine whether he can play in the opening-round series against the Denver Nuggets that tips off on April 16.
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Curry’s Fate Could Be Determined
As Letourneau reported, Curry is scheduled to go through a full-contact practice for the first time on Thursday, which means an important evaluation from the team doctor that could hold outsized significance.
“This leaves Dr. Rick Celebrini, the team’s director of sports medicine and performance, in a tricky spot,” Letourneau wrote. “If Curry isn’t cleared for the first round, the Warriors’ season could end by the time he’s ready. But if Celebrini rushes Curry back into the lineup, he would risk re-injuring someone whose long-term health means everything to the franchise: hundreds of millions of dollars in annual revenue, national relevance, the chance to contend.”
Letourneau noted that the team could be expediting the process of getting Curry back onto the court, skipping the normal progression that starts with two-on-two work and gradually increases to full team scrimmages. This also comes on the heels of a revelation from the Warriors that Curry’s injury may have been more significant than initially reported, as Letourneau pointed out a Tuesday news release that called his injury “a sprained ligament and bone bruise in his left foot.”
“The bone bruise had not been previously disclosed,” Letourneau wrote. “Dr. Kenneth Jung, a foot and ankle surgeon at Cedars-Sinai’s Kerlan-Jobe Institute in Los Angeles who consults for the Lakers, told The Chronicle that a bone bruise suggests that the sprain was more severe.”
Good Signs for Curry
Curry may have cleared an important first hurdle. While the team has yet to make a final determination on his status for Game 1 on Saturday, Curry was able to practice with the team on Wednesdsay. As Dalton Johnson of NBC Sports Bay Area reported, Curry went through situational drills along with teammates and looked good enough to be cleared to participate in Thursday’s scrimmage.
Curry earned a good review from teammate Gary Payton II, who said the former league MVP looked to be in his pre-injury form.
“He looked like Steph,” Payton said. “That’s a good sign and I know he’s going to keep getting better and doing whatever he’s got to do to be ready. So, excited — he looked like Steph.
The Warriors mostly struggled without Curry this season, going 8-10 without him on the court. If he is cleared to return, the team will be the healthiest it has been in months. Prior to Curry’s injury, teammate Draymond Green missed more than two months after suffering a back injury, and Klay Thompson didn’t take the court until January after finishing a two-and-a-half-year rehab odyssey that included major injuries in 2019 and 2020.