OAKLAND — Stephen Curry officially probably will play tonight.
“I would be very surprised if he didn’t,” Warriors head coach Steve Kerr said after Monday’s practice. “But, we’ve got to — just for caution — wait until (Tuesday) and see how he’s feeling.”
The Warriors listed Curry as “probable” in their injury report for Game 2 against the New Orleans Pelicans, although probable does not mean definite. Curry has a Grade 2 MCL sprain in his left knee, an injury he suffered during a 106-94 win against the Atlanta Hawks on March 23. Curry missed the Warriors’ next 16 games, including Game 1 of this second-round-playoff series, when they beat the Pelicans 123-101.
Given how easily the Warriors won that game without Curry, did they consider postponing his return until Game 3 or later, and giving him extra time to rest and strengthen his knee?
“Not at all,” Kerr said. “He needs rhythm. And he’s ready to go. He has been cleared. Now, it’s a question of how much time we give him, and that’s important. He needs to get his groove back.”
Kerr declined to say whether Curry will get his groove back as a starter or coming off the bench when he returns. But Kerr did say he won’t restrict the point guard’s playing time to a preselected number of minutes. “It’s about his rhythm and whether he gets tired quickly or not. If he does, we’ll take him out, and we’ll figure out when to play him, with whom and what the rotation would look like.”
The Warriors cleared Curry to play Saturday in Game 1, but Kerr decided not to play him. Kerr said Curry wasn’t ready — he had scrimmaged only once since he injured his knee.
Curry scrimmaged a second time on Sunday. “He scrimmaged with some of the guys who don’t play as much,” Kerr said. “The other guys stayed home and took the day off. I had one eye on game tape and one eye on Steph. We were able to keep an eye on him while we were going through our own work. I talked to him afterward, and he came out well. Feeling good today. Went through the whole practice.”
Curry hasn’t played a real game in 39 days. He might be rusty.
He wasn’t rusty after a previous 26-day layoff on Dec. 30. That night, he scored 38 points at home against the Memphis Grizzlies and shot 10 of 13 from behind the 3-point line. He had missed the previous 11 games with a sprained right ankle.
And he wasn’t rusty when he returned from a 15-day layoff on March 23. That night, he scored 29 points at home against the Atlanta Hawks in fewer than 29 minutes on the court. That was the night he injured his knee.
“Very few players are capable of sitting out that long and coming back and being themselves,” Warriors backup point guard Shaun Livingston said Monday. “That’s the hardest thing to do. I’m not one of those players, just being honest. Steph has that ability, but we can’t necessarily rely on that. Kevin (Durant), Klay (Thompson) — they have to continue to be aggressive and do what they’ve been doing.”