OAKLAND: Before the Warriors’ morning film session Tuesday, coach Steve Kerr noted the injuries to Stephen Curry and the Los Angeles Clippers’ Chris Paul.
Stunningly, both All-Star point guards are out indefinitely. The two teams might very well meet in the next round of the playoffs. But that wasn’t the point of Kerr’s message.
The NBA’s Coach of the Year was reminding the Warriors to enjoy the process and play with joy.
“I was just sort of giving them some perspective and the idea was there’s nothing guaranteed in terms of winning or losing or even being able to play from one night to the next,” Kerr said. “So if nothing’s guaranteed, then you just go out and you play with your hair on fire and whatever happens, happens.”
The Warriors lead the Houston Rockets 3-1 in their first-round series, and if Golden State is going to close out the series Wednesday at Oracle Arena, it will have to do so without Curry. The reigning MVP could miss about two weeks while recovering from a sprained right knee, leaving the Warriors’ chances at a successful NBA title defense uncertain.
But judging from the way the Warriors responded in the moments after Curry went down, they remain poised to win the series against the Rockets and dare to be confident.
“If I say our confidence level is the same without Steph, it’s a lie,” Draymond Green said. “But I think our confidence level with Steph is through the roof. It’s beyond high. Without Steph, it’s still at 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 and hold it down until he gets back.”
The Warriors in the third quarter Sunday outscored the Rockets 41-20. It was fast-paced, sweet-shooting Warriors basketball at its finest and accomplished after Curry limped his way off the floor. They finished with 38 assists.
“I think we locked in to play the type of basketball that we have to play,” Green said. “We moved the basketball. We pushed the basketball. We cut. We screened hard.”
Green said he believed that level of play was sustainable and that the Warriors this season have improved at playing without Curry due of a deeper understanding of the offense. The ball must move for them to get easier baskets. Curry, after all, won’t be around to make those shots only he can make.
Shaun Livingston, Curry’s replacement at point guard, said he planned on being more aggressive.
“We just have to execute,” Livingston said. “We’ve got to cut harder. We’ve got to play harder. We’ve got to defend harder. Every little thing. It’s about all the details just because he covers up a lot of mistakes.”
Nothing is promised, of course, as the Warriors have experienced. Curry’s prognosis is unclear as is the road to the NBA Finals. The Warriors will simply have to play through it.
“Our motto the last two years is ‘Strength in Numbers,’ “ Marreese Speights said. “So we believe in that, and I hope everybody else believes in it. Strength in Numbers, we don’t say that for no reason. We say that for a purpose.
“We’ve got a deep team. We’ve got a solid team even with Steph out. When Steph is with us, it’s a bonus — a superior team, a great team like we are.”