— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) March 25, 2018
After suffering a sprained MCL this weekend, Steph Curry is expected to miss at least the first round of the playoffs.
Without Curry this season, Golden State is 13-8. For the most part, he’s been healthy when it matters most for the Warriors. But this season feels different. Assuming he’s going to be out for the remainder of the regular season, Curry is on pace to miss 31 games this season (most since 2011-12).
Last post-season Golden State cruised to the Finals with a playoff record of 16-1. Outside of the Spurs, there wasn’t any competition that could play up to their level. They were dominant, and Curry played a big part in that. Without him, can they repeat that dominance? They still have KD, Draymond, and Klay. All of those guys are superstars in their own right, but without Curry, is that enough to get out of the first round?
If the standings stay the same, the Warriors will draw the Minnesota Timberwolves in the first round. And if that’s the matchup, they shouldn’t have a problem getting out of the first round. The Wolves are a great team, but GSW is more experienced. They would have their way with a young Timberwolves squad.
However, sitting just half a game in front of Minnesota is the San Antonio Spurs. We all remember what could have happened last post-season If Kawhi Leonard didn’t get hurt. The Spurs would have had a pretty good shot at beating the Warriors.
Without Kawhi this season, the Spurs have still managed to stay relevant. They’re currently floating around in the middle of the Western Conference, in big part to LaMarcus Aldridge. He’s been fantastic for them this year. And the word on the street right now is that Kawhi Leonard could be making his long-anticipated return to the court soon.
So if Kawhi Leonard comes back for the playoffs and San Antonio slips to the 7 seed in the West, could we see Golden State get knocked out in the first round? YES.
Outside of Houston, I think San Antonio is the only team that has a real shot at taking down Golden State. Greg Popovich is arguably the best coach in NBA history. We’ve seen him take down Goliath teams before too, most recently in the 2014 Finals against LeBron’s Miami Heat squad. If the Spurs get healthy for the playoffs and slip down to that 7 seed, I’d be worried if I were a Warriors fan.
-Nick Cherico (@NickCherico2)