Why Isn’t Anyone Talking About Steph Curry’s Knee?
After having lost 11 of their first 92 games this season, the Golden State Warriors have lost three of their last four by a total of 58 points and now face almost certain elimination in the Western Conference Finals. Partly because of their historic regular season win total, the consensus as to why they're currently sitting in a 3-1 hole right now has been that the Oklahoma City Thunder have finally maximized their potential. What with two of the league's top five superstar smack dab in the middle of their prime and healthy at the same time (for a change), it's hard to argue that the Thunder haven't 100% earned the position they find themselves in. That being said, their utter dominance of the reigning champs isn't entirely the result of simply wanting it more -- though it looks that way -- because the best basketball player on the planet for the last two years has been hobbled by a knee injury sustained in the previous series against Portland.
There, we said it. An injured Steph Curry has made the Warriors beatable. It's allowed the Thunder to switch on screens -- as opposed to going under them -- which virtually no other team has been able to successfully do this year, because when he's healthy, Steph uses that split second while his defenders are swapping out to explode into open space. He hasn't had the ability to do that since returning two weeks ago, and the Thunder have taken note. They've smelled blood in the water and we're watching them devour Golden State in a feeding frenzy, albeit during the best stretch of basketball OKC has ever played.
Adrian Wojnarowski backed up this rather glaring explanation Wednesday morning, citing a source "close to Curry" who claims the two-time Most Valuable Player is still very much hurt.
[Yahoo] Curry has been a shell of himself – missing shots, throwing away passes, losing his dribble, and completely unable to prove that there’s Curry-esque agility in that knee. “He’s playing at 70 percent, at best,” a source close to Curry told The Vertical. Curry refuses to make excuses, but privately the Thunder see something – no explosion, no ability to make the bigs switching onto him pay a price. Twenty points on 19 shots Tuesday night bore no resemblance to the two-time NBA Most Valuable Player.
As much as we like to characterize the Warriors by the diversity of ways they can kill you, they're still an NBA team, which means they rely heavily on their best player's output at both ends of the floor. When that guy is going up against perhaps the most physically imposing point guard in the history of the sport, injuries like the one Steph's dealing with right now have a disproportionate effect, because he simply can't keep up with Russell Westbrook. At least now we know why.
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