Curry suffers Grade 1 sprain of MCL, will be sidelined at least two weeks


Curry suffers Grade 1 sprain of MCL, will be sidelined at least two weeks

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Stephen Curry will miss at least two weeks for Golden State with a sprained ligament in his right knee, dealing a blow to the Warriors' hopes of following a record-breaking season with a second straight championship.

The Warriors said an MRI on Curry's knee Monday determined he had a Grade 1 sprain of the MCL and will be re-evaluated in two weeks.

That timetable would lead to Curry missing the rest of the first round of the playoffs and likely at least the first four games in round two if the Warriors are able to advance.

Golden State leads Houston 3-1 in its first-round series. Game 5 is Wednesday night in Oakland.

Curry was injured on the final play of the first half of Sunday's 121-94 win in Houston when he slid awkwardly on a wet spot on the court and fell. He immediately grabbed his knee and jogged with a limp to the locker room.

He came out with the team after halftime, but sat on the bench for most of the warmup time. After talking with coaches, he returned to the locker room with his second injury of the series. Curry had missed the previous two games with a sprained right ankle.

The Warriors thrived without Curry on Sunday, hitting eight 3-pointers in the third quarter alone to turn a tie game into a 21-point lead on the way to the easy win.

But doing that without the reigning MVP for a longer period of time figures to be more problematic. The Warriors have gone 3-2 this season without Curry playing, including wins against the Rockets on New Year's Eve and at home in Game 2. Golden State also lost Game 3 in Houston by one point while Curry sat with the ankle injury.

Replacing everything Curry does is almost impossible because no one has ever had the collection of skills he has with the ability to spread the defense with long-range shooting, the ballhandling to create his own shot and the playmaking that leads to easy baskets for his teammates.

Curry led the NBA this season by averaging 30.1 points per game, while averaging 6.7 assists, 5.4 rebounds and a league-leading 2.1 steals as well. Curry made a record 402 3-pointers, eclipsing his own previous mark by 116.

While backup point guard Shaun Livingston and do-everything power forward Draymond Green can shoulder much of the playmaking load and Klay Thompson is the second-best 3-point shooter in the league, the Warriors go from a historically great team that won a record 73 games in the regular season with Curry in the lineup to a vulnerable one if he misses significant time.

With a 3-1 series lead and two potential games at home against the eighth-seeded Rockets, Golden State is still primed to advance to the second round without Curry. But a second-round series against either the Los Angeles Clippers or Portland would be much more problematic.

The second round of the playoffs won't start until this weekend at the earliest. No matter when the second round starts, Game 4 would likely be either May 8 or 9, which will be in two weeks.

That would make Curry's earliest possible return in Game 5 but Golden State could be forced to go the entire round without him, which could open a path for teams like San Antonio, Oklahoma City, the Clippers or Cleveland to win the title.

The Warriors benefited from injuries to opponents last season on the way to the NBA title with Memphis point guard Mike Conley missing time in the second round and Cleveland missing point guard Kyrie Irving for the last five games and power forward Kevin Love for the entire NBA Finals.

This would not be the first time a playoff injury potentially derailed a historic run. In 1972-73, the Celtics won 68 games in the regular season but star forward John Havlicek injured his right shoulder in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals against the New York Knicks. Havlicek missed one game and played hurt in the final three as New York won the series in seven games.

The Los Angeles Lakers rolled through the 1989 playoffs with 11 straight wins to get to the Finals as they sought a third straight title. Byron Scott pulled his hamstring before Game 1 and missed the entire series against Detroit and Magic Johnson then injured his hamstring with the Lakers leading in the second half of Game 2. The Pistons came back to win that game and sweep the series against the short-handed Lakers.

Just four years ago, the Chicago Bulls tied for the best record in the NBA in the lockout-shortened regular season only to lose point guard Derrick Rose to a torn ACL in Game 1 of the playoffs against Philadelphia. The Bulls lost the series in six games.

Horford helps Celtics get back on track

Horford helps Celtics get back on track

Aggressive Al Horford was on the floor Friday night for the Boston Celtics, a good sign for a Celtics team that has been battered by injuries. 

As the oldest member of the team, the 31-year-old’s leadership has to become more example-driven as well as existing in the spoken word.

CELTICS TALK PODCAST  - Smart's importance to C's, dissecting the East

Horford was on point for most of Friday’s 92-83 win over Orlando, a game that was far more lopsided in Boston’s favor than the final score might indicate.

The 6-foot-10 forward/center had a near double-double with 15 points and nine rebounds. 

What was more telling was that Horford took a team-high 18 shots from the field, as clear a sign as you will find that Horford’s mindset on Friday was to attack Orlando’s defense early and often. 

And while it’s true that the Magic are one of the worst teams in the NBA, that doesn’t diminish the way Horford executed the plays called by head coach Brad Stevens as Horford played the role of primary scorer more often than usual, instead of being a major facilitator.

Having missed Boston’s previous two games, Horford was admittedly concerned if the lay-off might affect his conditioning. 

“Wind-wise I felt good,” Horford told reporters after Friday night’s win. “A little rusty on offense. But defensively I felt great. I felt our team came out with energy; just a good win.” 

A win that became a lot easier to get with Aggressive Al on the floor. 

 Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds in Boston’s 92-83 win over Orlando.



Terry Rozier: He continues to provide the Celtics with really solid guard play, with all-star guard Kyrie Irving (left knee soreness) missing. Rozier had a game high-tying 17 points along with seven rebounds and five assists. 

Greg Monroe: The third quarter was when Monroe really began to take over the game. He finished with 17 points, 10 of which came in the third. 

Shelvin Mack: Not a lot to cheer about for Mack and the Magic who once again struggled in so many phases of the game. But Mack still managed to score 16 points. 



Al Horford: Having missed the two previous games, Horford was back in full force on Friday. He had 15 points on 6-for-18 shooting to go with nine rebounds

Boston rebounding: The Celtics control of the glass began from the outset and never really eased up. For the game, Boston grabbed 55 rebounds compared to just 40 by Orlando. 



Fourth-quarter Celtics: The only real blemish on an otherwise impressive performance by Boston, was the team’s overall play in the fourth quarter. Boston was outscored 31-17 and turned the ball over 10 times in the quarter. 


Celtics snap skid with dominant win over Magic, 92-83

USA TODAY Sports Photo

Celtics snap skid with dominant win over Magic, 92-83

The Orlando Magic are one of the few teams already eliminated from playoff contention. 

And on Friday, it didn’t take long to see why.

CELTICS TALK PODCAST - Smart's importance, dissecting the Eastern Conference

The Boston Celtics didn’t waste any time taking control of the game and never letting up as they cruised to a 92-83 win.

Terry Rozier and Greg Monroe led the Celtics with 17 points each and Shelvin Mack had 16 points and seven rebounds for Orlando.  

With the win, the Celtics (47-22) snapped a two-game losing skid and improved their record since returning from the All-Star break to 7-3. 

Getting back on a winning track was just part of Boston’s motivation heading into Friday night’s game. 

With several key players out with injuries, the Celtics’ depth was once again on display from the opening tip to the final horn. 

In the first half, reserve guard Shane Larkin led the team in scoring with 10 points. 

And in the third quarter, backup center Greg Monroe was too much for the Magic to handle around the basket.

In the third, Monroe scored 10 of his 17 points off Boston’s bench. 

This was a game that the Celtics showed few signs of the kind of let-up we have seen them display against bad teams from time to time. 

But Orlando opened the fourth quarter with a 9-2 run that cut Boston’s lead down to 77-61 with 9:18 to play. 

Celtics head coach Brad Stevens had seen enough and called a time-out. 

Orlando was able to chip away a little more at Boston’s lead which peaked at 24 points but was down to single digits in the fourth which provided a glimmer of hope that maybe just maybe, the Magic could get back in the game.

But when it mattered, Boston made the plays in the game’s closing moments to secure the victory. 

For the Celtics, the goal on Friday night was two-fold: find a way to win and come away healthy. 

Boston found success on both fronts, a refreshing change the Celtics hope to do more of going forward. 

Marcus Smart underwent surgery on his right thumb earlier in the day, which is expected to keep him sidelined for 6-8 weeks which would put his return to the floor at the earliest, sometime near the end of the first round of the playoffs or early into the second. 

Daniel Theis underwent season-ending surgery recently for a meniscus tear in his left knee.

And Boston played without Kyrie Irving (left knee soreness), but he might back in the lineup for Sunday’s game against New Orleans.

Al Horford returned to the lineup after missing the previous two games due to an illness, and he didn’t disappoint in finishing with a near double-double of 15 point and nine rebounds.