Any Steph Curry absence creates completely different dynamic for Warriors

Any Steph Curry absence creates completely different dynamic for Warriors

OAKLAND -- The Warriors have seen this before. A star player, a former MVP, takes a knee to his thigh moments after tipoff but doesn’t prevent him from playing well while finishing the game.

This was Kevin Durant’s evening last Monday, and he was held out of the next game 48 hours later.

This was Stephen Curry’s evening Saturday night as the Warriors rolled to a 135-114 victory over the 76ers.

“KD passed off that contusion to me,” Curry joked afterward. “Same exact kind of situation, trying to come off a screen and got kneed in the thigh. I was obviously able to keep playing. I’m sure it’s going to hurt tomorrow but, hopefully, I’ll be alright.”

Curry then limped away from the postgame podium, much as Durant did earlier in the week.

It’s conceivable, if not likely, he will miss the game Monday night against Orlando. If there is any question, he absolutely can expect to sit. It’s game No. 14 of 82. Caution in this instance seems the prudent approach, and it’s the one coach Steve Kerr lives by whenever there is the slightest doubt.

If Curry is out, the Warriors are prepared. Veterans Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston have had recent rest nights and are capable of operating the offense in Curry’s absence.

Still, it’s the kind of predicament Kerr would rather avoid, even though he realizes it’s possible.

“It was a bruised quad, same thing that KD had two games ago, just a knee to the thigh that’s pretty painful,” Kerr said. “I’m sure he’ll feel it more tomorrow.”

It is situations such as this that compel Kerr to ensure that none of the team’s 14 available players goes too long without getting on the court. Any one of them might be pressed into action.

It’s also why the vets can expect to rest every four to six weeks. They need the maintenance in case they are required to temporarily handle a heavier load of minutes.

With Durant on the sideline in street clothes Wednesday, the Warriors ran away from the Timberwolves for a125-102 victory. Klay Thompson and Curry combined for 50 points and the bench outscored the Minnesota reserves 54-29.

The Warriors clearly know how to play in the absence of Durant, even though he was crucial upon his return Saturday, scoring a game-high 29 points against Philadelphia. They learned that much last season, when he missed 19 games in March and early April.

Curry is another matter. He is the catalyst for much of what the Warriors do, certainly on offense, and his absence would result a completely different team dynamic. The overall energy would be adversely affected.

By mere presence, Curry makes his teammates better. He is a magnet for opposing defenses, creating space for the likes of Klay Thompson and Durant and Iguodala. When Curry is on top of his game, the Warriors are practically unbeatable.

When he’s absent, winning comes considerably tougher.

So they hope. If he’s able to play, that means he’s at full strength and the Warriors will have all components of the machine they have become, poised to keep on rolling.

Gameday: How the well-rested Nets will test the Durant-less Warriors

Gameday: How the well-rested Nets will test the Durant-less Warriors

Roughly 20 hours after winning in Philadelphia, the Warriors on Sunday take their act to Barclays Center in Brooklyn, where they’ll be without Kevin Durant as they try to sweep a back-to-back set for the first time this season.

Coverage on NBC Sports Bay Area begins at 2pm, with tipoff scheduled for 3:05pm.

It’s the third back-to-back set of the season for the Warriors (12-4), who have split the first two. This one follows a stirring comeback victory over the 76ers on Saturday and it comes against a Nets team sure to test their endurance.

That test is automatically tougher with Durant, who scored scored 27 points against Philly but will be sidelined Sunday with an ankle sprain.

Brooklyn (6-9) is playing without two guards who figured prominently in their plans, as both Jeremy Lin and D’Angelo Russell are out with injuries.

Warriors by 11

Stephen Curry vs. Spencer Dinwiddie. Curry broke out his mini-slump in the third quarter Saturday in Philly, scoring 20 points on 6-of-7 shooting, including 4-of-4 from deep. He’ll see plenty of Dinwiddie, whose wingspan approaches 6-9. Starting in place of the injured D’Angelo Russell, Dinwiddie has become a solid catalyst for Brooklyn’s fast-paced offense. His 5.57-1 assist-to-turnover ratio leads all NBA point guards. If he plays exceptionally well, the Nets may have a legitimate chance.

Warriors: F Kevin Durant (L ankle sprain) is listed as out. C Damian Jones is on assignment with the G-League Santa Cruz Warriors.

Nets: G Jeremy Lin (ruptured patellar tendon) and G D’Angelo Russell (L knee surgery) are listed as out.

Kane Fitzgerald (crew chief), Ben Taylor and Scott Wall.

LAST 10:
Warriors: 8-2, Nets: 3-7.

The Warriors swept two games against Brooklyn in each of the last two seasons and have won 14 of the last 19 overall.

THE GAS TANK: After expending a lot of energy in wiping out a 24-point second-half deficit against the 76ers, the Warriors now confront the NBA’s most hyperactive team. Brooklyn leads the league in pace for the second consecutive season under coach Kenny Atkinson. The Nets are rested and they want to run. With the Warriors shorthanded and coming off a game on the previous night, Brooklyn will push at every opportunity.

TRUST THE D: The Nets rank second in field-goal attempts but 25th in field-goal percentage and 26th in 3-point percentage. They rely on volume to stay in games, and sometimes it’s enough. The Warriors, with the exception of the first half on Saturday, have tightened their defense and now rank fifth in defensive rating. They may have to go deep into the bench, but they’re defense should hold up.

THE GLASS WAR: On sheer rebounding numbers the Warriors and Nets are about equal, thanks largely to Brooklyn ranking second behind Phoenix in both field-goal attempts and missed shots. Where the Warriors separate is in rebounding percentage, where they rank sixth and Brooklyn is 25th. If the Warriors can stay even on the glass against a team that also is comfortable playing “small,” it likely will be enough to put them over the top.

Joel Embiid 'likes' Kevin Durant's postgame comments

Joel Embiid 'likes' Kevin Durant's postgame comments

Joel Embiid is an all-time great when it comes to his use of social media.

His ability to troll his opponents and victims is unmatched.

And as Kevin Durant revealed after a huge comeback win over the 76ers on Saturday night, the Warriors didn't want to be the subject of Embiid's Twitter wrath.

"We wanted to win this game really, really bad. After being down by so much, we didn't want to lose to these guys, especially Joel. He woulda gone straight to Twitter and started talking s***," Durant told reporters after the game.

Embiid hasn't posted anything on Twitter or Instagram since Saturday's game ended, but a quick look at his Twitter Likes shows that the 76ers' center liked the video of Durant's comments.

With their 124-116 comeback win on Saturday, the Warriors swept the two-game season series from Embiid and the 76ers.