Stephen Curry

With health No. 1 concern, Warriors aiming high for sweep of Spurs

With health No. 1 concern, Warriors aiming high for sweep of Spurs

SAN ANTONIO -- The Warriors now know that if they come into Game 4 Sunday with the same level of energy displayed so far in their first-round matchup against San Antonio, they’ll accomplish a series sweep.

They’re also starting to feel they might need to get a sweep.

They’ll be shorthanded again Sunday and could use the time to heal before the next round begins, as soon as next weekend. Five days to a week between games is as good as it gets.

With Stephen Curry out since March 23 -- and for at least another week -- the Warriors picked up two more aches in the final minutes of Game 3. Kevin Durant and Shaun Livingston both rolled their left ankles and left the game.

An hour later, Durant was walking without a discernable limp. Livingston spent plenty time on the trainer’s table and was walking with a very discernable limp.

Livingston wouldn’t rule himself out of Game 4, saying he’ll take Friday off, receive some intense treatment, and then see how he felt prior to practice on Saturday. Based on the visual, he’ll be sitting. And should be sitting.

Curry’s status was updated Friday. He has been cleared for “modified” practice activity beginning Saturday and will be reevaluated next April 27.

Game 1 of the next round of the playoffs could be as early as April 28.

In the hours after the Warriors’ 110-97 victory in Game 3 on Thursday, Klay Thompson pointed out some of the advantages of advancing as quickly as possible.

“Limit our road travel, expand our time to rest and get our best guys healthy, like Steph, KD and Shaun,” he said.

The Warriors almost certainly will need their best selves to deal with their next opponent next weekend.

There are 16 teams in the NBA playoffs, and none has been more surprisingly spectacular than the Pelicans. Suffocating the Trail Blazers on one end and shooting them into submission on the other, New Orleans is up 3-0 and on the brink of advancing.

It was evident from the buzz in the postgame locker room that the Warriors are impressed with the No. 6 seed Pelicans’ demolition of third-seeded Portland.

A week into the postseason, only the Warriors’ net rating of 20.2 is better than New Orleans’ 11.3. The Warriors are second in offensive rating, the Pelicans fifth. The Warriors are third in defensive rating, the Pelicans fourth.

New Orleans is thriving because point guard Rajon Rondo is fully engaged, Anthony Davis is playing with gusto and combo guard Jrue Holiday is reminding folks how terrific he was before his career was temporarily rerouted by injuries to himself and a serious health scare to his wife, former soccer star Lauren Holiday (nee Chaney).

“People forget, but he was really good when we were teammates,” said Andre Iguodala, who spent three seasons with Holiday in Philadelphia. “He could score, he could pass and he always could defend. He can do pretty much anything on the basketball court.”

It’s not that the Warriors are looking past the Spurs. It’s that they expect to win the series and realize they’ll need to be better should they advance.

“We have been in a decent rhythm,” Draymond Green said, referring mostly to the offense. “There is still another level we can get to and I have no doubt in my mind that we will get to that level.

“But, as bad as we were playing (to close the regular season), to kind of get to where we are is pretty solid. It’s still the first round, so . . . if you can still win and not be clicking and peaking at that time, that’s great. And I don’t think we are. It has been solid. We’ve been able to find a decent rhythm, but there are some things that we can clean up on that side of the ball and we will.”

That level is most easily reached when all four All-Stars are in the starting lineup. That can’t happen until Durant is healed -- he says he’s fine -- and Curry returns and vets Andre Iguodala, David West and Livingston are in their customary roles.

The Warriors likely win Game 4 even if Livingston joins Curry in street clothes on Sunday. Game 4 of the Pelicans-Blazers series is set for Saturday in New Orleans. Wins this weekend or early next week would have Warriors-Pelicans tipping off in Game 1 of the Western Conference Semifinals on April 28 or 29.

As Thompson indicated, the Warriors would like as much time as possible to heal and prepare. The way the Pelicans have been rolling, they’re going to need it.

Steph Curry to begin participating in modified Warriors practices

Steph Curry to begin participating in modified Warriors practices

SAN ANTONIO -- After a four-week absence from all team basketball activities, Stephen Curry will return to the practice court for specified activities Saturday.

Curry was reevaluated Friday in San Antonio and was cleared “to participate in modified team practices . . . and the intensity of his on-court rehabilitation will continue to increase,” the Warriors announced in statement released Friday afternoon.

That Curry won’t be reevaluated until next weekend implies that, should the Warriors advance out of the first round, he almost certainly will miss Game 1 of Western Conference semifinals that could begin as early as April 28.

Curry sustained a Grade 2 MCL sprain to his left knee on March 23 against the Hawks, missing the final 10 games of the regular season as well as the first three games of the first-round playoff series against the Spurs.

The examination, according to the Warriors, “indicated that Stephen continues to make consistent functional progress since the injury.”

Curry has been going through individual workouts daily, sometimes twice, in an effort to increase strength and range of motion. After the team’s shootaround on Thursday, he spent more than an hour going through light drills under the supervision of the training staff.

The typical recovery time for a Grade 2 MCL sprain is four to six weeks.

Report: Steph Curry 'still not close to playing'

Report: Steph Curry 'still not close to playing'

Even though he has been working extensively with Warriors head trainer Chelsea Lane in recent days, Steph Curry isn't close to returning.

Curry hasn't reached the final stages of his rehab process, according to The Athletic, and an early May return is still the most realistic possibility. That means Curry will likely miss a few games of the next round, assuming the Warriors advance.

Curry suffered a Grade 2 sprain of his left MCL on Friday, March 23. The original timetable for Curry's return was set at 4-to-6 weeks. Tomorrow will be the four-week marker. Six weeks would be Friday, May 4.

If the Warriors finish off the Spurs in four or five games and the Pelicans take down the Blazers in similar fashion, the Western Conference Semifinals could begin as early as April 28. If either of the series get extended to six or seven games, the next round would start on May 1, according to the report.