Warriors

Four things we learned while Steph Curry dealt with fourth ankle injury

Four things we learned while Steph Curry dealt with fourth ankle injury

UPDATE (2:40pm PT on Tuessday): Steph Curry has been cleared for full team practices with the goal of playing this week, the Warriors announced.

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The Warriors’ usual late-spring sprint toward the postseason, already slowed to a limp, deteriorated into a forlorn crawl Monday night in San Antonio as they were losing for the fourth time in six games.

Draymond Green, the only “healthy” member of the team’s All-Star quartet, left the game in the second quarter with a pelvic contusion and did not return.

Though Green said after this 89-75 loss to the Spurs that he doesn’t consider this a serious injury, it’s abundantly clear reinforcements can’t arrive soon enough.

Stephen Curry, a profoundly superior reinforcement, may return as soon as Friday.

Curry’s tender right ankle is scheduled to be reevaluated Tuesday, after which the Warriors will establish a timeline for his return. He could, according to team and league sources, be back in the lineup Friday night when the Atlanta Hawks visit Oracle Arena.

That would provide a massive injection of talent for the Warriors, who lost of three games during a four-day stretch in which they were forced to rely heavily on reserves and role players.

“We’re already shorthanded and then we lose another All-Star, the glue to our team, Draymond, at halftime,” said Quinn Cook, who in scoring 73 points over the past three games did an admirable job of trying of producing Curry-like numbers.

As good as Cook was on Monday, scoring 20 points, it’s a bit much to ask Cook to lead the Warriors past a San Antonio team fighting to extend its 20-year streak of consecutive playoff appearances.

The Warriors are built around their four All-Stars -- Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, Curry and Green. They usually can withstand the loss of one, and they can often are OK missing two. But when it’s three, and possibly four, the defending champs are a home without a foundation.

As the Warriors were losing four of six games, and two of the last three, we have learned four things:

1) Cook is an NBA keeper.

The point guard from Duke, who turns 25 on Friday, has proved not only that he belongs in the league but also that he can survive in the rotation of a championship contender. He’s considerably more effective than Pat McCaw. Even if everybody were healthy, it would be hard, maybe foolish, to deny Cook minutes.

2) Kevon Looney continues to smooth the rough edges of his game.

The Warriors opened the season uncertain what they could expect from a forward that has undergone surgery on both hips. Month after month, though, he has done most everything they could have asked. He operates well in their switching defense, is effective in traffic and now he’s blocking shots and raining jumpers. At this rate, the Warriors would be delighted to have him back next season.

3) David West and Jordan Bell are in search of rhythm.

West was reliably excellent, at both ends, prior to missing five games with a cyst on his right arm. Since returning last Friday, there have been visible signs of rust. He’ll be OK in time, but at 37 likely needs another game or two to rediscover his touch.

Bell missed 14 games with a left ankle sprain, returned briefly, sustained a sprain of his right ankle and missed three more games. In the three games since his return, he has yet to look comfortable. It’s not just rust; it’s also the team around him. He’s at his best when supporting the stars. It may take him a while before he shines again.

4) Postseason minutes may be scarce for Nick Young

The Warriors hired Young to score while not embarrassing himself on defense and he has had good moments on both ends. But his inconsistency -- partly attributed to unspectacular conditioning -- grates on coaches and sometimes teammates. As much as he wants to enjoy the postseason, he’s playing his way toward an insignificant role unless injuries dictate otherwise.

Warriors-Spurs series feels small and insignificant with Erin Popovich's passing

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USATSI

Warriors-Spurs series feels small and insignificant with Erin Popovich's passing

SAN ANTONIO -- The news hit Steve Kerr like a sledgehammer to the heart.

Imagine, then, how it must have hit Kerr’s mentor, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich.

The Warriors were wrapping up light practice at AT&T Center Wednesday evening when it was announced by the Spurs that Erin Popovich, Gregg’s wife of more than 40 years, had passed away after a long illness.

Suddenly, Warriors-Spurs and their first-round playoff series, which resumes Thursday, felt small and insignificant.

Kerr, who has been close to the Popovich family for 20 years and whose eldest son, Nick, works for the Spurs, could not bring himself to talk. Seeing the anguish on his face, I felt guilty for asking. I felt relieved that he declined.

I also felt like I’ve never understood Popovich better.

Nothing shines a light on a survivor like the loss of a loved one and in this regard Popovich is brilliant. His wife had been suffering month after month after month, for years, according to those familiar with the circumstances, yet he soldiered on during what may be, personally and professionally, his most difficult year.

His wife was ailing, as if that’s not enough.

His team has been without its best player, Kawhi Leonard, which almost deprived the Spurs of their annual ticket to the NBA playoffs.

Almost. The Spurs found their way by following the tenets Popovich has preached for 22 years in San Antonio. Work hard, play smart, do your best job and live with the results.

Sounds simple, but it worked.

See, when so many in the NBA orbit are living through basketball, Popovich has been living through reality. Basketball is a priority, but not his obsession. He’s a military man, a graduate of the Air Force Academy, whose experiences have afforded him a personal lens than spans at least 360 degrees.

It’s why Popovich never dwells too long on a game, certainly not now, at age 69, a grandfather whose thoughts could not have been too far from his wife of more than 40 years.

It’s why he consistently speaks up for those whose pleas go unheard.

It’s why he says, convincingly, that he doesn’t care if his opinions about our current president rub some folks the wrong way -- even if those folks are Spurs fans.

Popovich is living in the moment because that’s all he has, all any of us has.

The news of the day brought me back to the words Popovich said in closing his pregame news conference prior to Game 1 of this series Saturday in Oakland:

“Enjoy the day. It’s beautiful out there.”

Erin Popovich, wife of Spurs coach Gregg, passes away

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AP

Erin Popovich, wife of Spurs coach Gregg, passes away

The Spurs family suffered an unimaginable tragedy on Wednesday when Gregg Popovich's wife, Erin, passed away.

The news was made public by the team shortly after 5pm PT.

"We mourn the loss of Erin. She was a strong, wonderful, kind, intelligent woman who provided love, support and humor to all of us," Spurs general manager RC Buford said in a statement.

Gregg and Erin Popovich were married for four decades.

The heartbreaking news was announced as the Warriors players and coaches were meeting with the media in San Antonio.

Steve Kerr, who is close with the Popovichs, was too stunned to comment on Erin's passing.

Reporters in the arena broke the news to Kevin Durant, who was understandably stunned by the news.

"What? Seriously? Man, prayers and condolences to his family. Damn. I don't even know what to say," Durant said.

Steph Curry and Shaun Livingston took to Twitter Wednesday evening to pay their respects to Gregg Popovich.