OAKLAND (AP) — Draymond Green is going to tell it like it is, and he insists these Golden State Warriors have few issues when it comes to confidence.
Even playing without injured superstar Stephen Curry.
“We’re still very confident. If I sat here and told you our confidence level is the same without Steph, that’s a lie,” Green said after Tuesday’s practice. “I think our confidence level with Steph is through the roof. It’s beyond high. Without Steph, it’s still out the roof. We’re not losing much confidence. We still believe in ourselves. We still think it’s very possible for us to make a run. We’re going to hold it down ‘til he gets back.”
Sure, losing Curry for likely two weeks or more is a significant blow to the defending champions. It stings to see the NBA’s MVP go down in the middle of the playoffs after a record-setting regular season in which he became the first player to make 400 3-pointers.
“The great thing with Steph is I think he’s got perspective built in just from his family,” newly crowned NBA Coach of the Year Steve Kerr said. “He knows what’s important. His health is extremely important but in the grand scheme of things, he’s healthy, he’s happy, he’s got a great wife and kids and family. He’s probably going to be back playing basketball in a few weeks. It’s just a little bump in the road.”
An MRI exam on Curry’s injured right knee Monday showed a Grade 1 sprain of the MCL. Warriors general manager Bob Myers is estimating at least two weeks for the recovery period, but that’s merely a guess at this stage.
“His spirits are high. He’s good,” Green said of Curry. “It seems like he’s moving a little better than he was yesterday.”
Kerr reminded his team during film study Tuesday that “there’s no guarantee of anything,” using injuries to the Clippers’ Chris Paul and Blake Griffin as examples.
At a minimum, Golden State would likely be without Curry — and his 30.1 scoring average — for the initial four games of the second round if the Warriors advance. They play Game 5 of their best-of-seven series with Houston on Wednesday night at Oracle Arena leading 3-1.
“I just feel bad for Steph more than anything,” Kerr said. “He’s worked so hard and now all of a sudden after really several years of being injury-free, back-to-back injuries. But in a lot of ways, he’s lucky.
He’s lucky it’s not worse and if we can take care of business while he’s getting better, there’s a chance he can come back and be part of this playoff run and help us go deep. We’ll try to hold down the fort while he’s out. ... He’s obviously not playing any time soon.”
The Warriors won Sunday’s Game 4 at Houston after Curry injured his knee when he slipped awkwardly on the final play of the first half and his legs split apart. Golden State hit eight 3-pointers in the third quarter alone to turn a tie game into a 21-point lead on the way to a 121-94 victory.
“It was alarm,” center Marreese Speights said of his reaction. “All the guys saw how emotional Steph was. We’ve never seen that before. It was like, ‘There’s no way we’re losing this game. We’re going to go out and play the best we can play for him.’”
Shaun Livingston already started in Curry’s place for Games 2 and 3, and will be called upon again to carry a bigger load until Curry can play again.
“That’s where it comes to me being assertive and aggressive, exposing mismatches, making them make adjustments. Then also, too, when I’m able to do that, and score and be aggressive, then it opens the floor up a little bit for our shooters and for other guys,” Livingston said. “We’re more locked into attention to detail.”
That moment seeing Curry go down shook Speights. He had never seen his superstar teammate emotionally break or come close to tears, so Curry’s display of dejection immediately after the knee injury Sunday was hard to see.
“It’s a feeling that everybody has in their heart, to see how emotional he was,” Speights said. “He’s a great guy. You never want to see a guy like that go down like that. ... Things happen for a reason. He’s going to be all right. We’re going to be good, too.”
In fact, watching Curry go down fueled his teammates. They weren’t going to see him like that and not fight to win it in Curry’s honor.
And just as Golden State has shown all season when someone goes down, this group believes in depth as one of its biggest strengths.
“We feel good because we’ve had this experience before. We’ve had it during the regular season, we’ve had it in this series and in the second half of the last game,” small forward Harrison Barnes said. “We want to continue to build on that momentum and get off to a good start.”