Are Warriors and Clippers in Trouble After Curry, CP3 Injuries?
A year ago many NBA pundits remarked that the Golden State Warriors lucked out when they ran through the entire playoffs without facing any of their opponents’ starting point guards for an entire series.
It was hard to deny the fact, too. Jrue Holiday was left limited in round one due to a nagging leg issue, Mike Conley had an eye issue that knocked him out of two games in round two, Patrick Beverley was too hurt to suit up at all in the Western Conference Finals and Kyrie Irving lasted just one game in the NBA Finals.
If we’re to look at the paper quickly and look away, sure, the Warriors had an easier path than they might have had if all of those point guards had been healthy.
As fate would have it, though, the rest of the NBA – at least for now – looks to be getting the same treatment, just the other way around.
Both Stephen Curry and Chris Paul are on the mend after getting hurt in their most recent action, with an MRI officially reporting a sprained MCL for Curry and a hand injury sustained by CP3 on Monday evening figuring to be a broken hand.
Early signs suggest Curry will miss the next two weeks, and at that point the Warriors expect to re-evaluate their MVP and see if he can return at full strength.
— The Vertical (@TheVertical) April 25, 2016
Paul may not be so lucky, as his injury very well could end his post-season run. Clippers head coach Doc Rivers was non-committal either way, suggesting L.A. would be seeking a second opinion once the “swelling goes down”.
Regardless, the prognosis is bleak for CP3 and the real problem is whether or not the Warriors and Clippers can hold on long enough to get their top players back in action.
The news is worse for the Clippers at first glance. Throw in Blake Griffin dealing with another quad issue, and their ship could very well be sunk. Griffin’s status could still be key, but Lob City is suddenly stuck in a 2-2 tie with the Portland Trail Blazers and they’re now going to be hard-pressed to escape round one alive.
Update: Both Blake Griffin and CP3 have now officially been ruled out for the remainder of the playoffs. Austin Rivers and Jeff Green are likely to start in their place.
Doing so without CP3 is going to be tough. Doing it without both of their top two players, well, just might be impossible.
Portland is still a beatable opponent, though. The Clippers should get Griffin back for most or all of the remainder of their series and they still have the home court edge. The real issue is if they do in fact advance to round two – will that be as far as they go?
That is where things truly get interesting, as a round two matchup would undoubtedly be against the defending champion Warriors, who at that point would also be without Curry.
That’s where things get good for the Dubs, who are already up 3-1 on the Rockets and have a chance in game five on Wednesday to close out the series. They’ll have to do so without their best player, but they beat the Rockets without Curry in game two and almost did it again (lost by one) in Houston in game three.
Golden State, even without Curry, is extremely unlikely to collapse against an inferior Rockets team. This series could go a full seven games with Curry sidelined, but Golden State is still likely to prevail.
Things only get easier for them from there, and it can’t be looked at as anything other than dumb luck. Not having Curry for 2+ weeks could have been a death sentence against a feisty Clippers (or Blazers) team in the second round. Now, of course, Golden State can wrap up their first round series early, get rested, and prepare themselves for a Los Angeles team that won’t be led by Chris Paul.
Barring a miracle recovery and both Paul and Griffin being completely healthy (and assuming they still get past Portland), there is no silver lining for the Clippers. They’re wounded and the clock is now already ticking against them. It probably was regardless with a round two date against the defending champs (who they went 0-4 against this season), but at significantly less than 100%, they could be looking to avoid a broom, rather than trying to pull off the impossible.
Golden State, meanwhile, couldn’t have gotten luckier. The only way this backfires is if the Blazers advance into round two at full health and Curry can’t make it back in time. If that happens, the Warriors could be on upset watch against an explosive Blazers offense that tied them in the season series, 2-2.
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