Warriors

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Warriors

OAKLAND -- The return of Stephen Curry comes with a measure of uncertainty that is completely unrelated to his health.

The Warriors don’t seem worried at all, but some of their fans do.

The concern is whether Curry can return from a Grade 2 sprain of the medial collateral ligament (MCL) in his left knee and immediately perform at a level to which those fans have become accustomed.

What if he is rusty? What if the Warriors need time to get used to playing with him?

If history is any indication, there is no need for such apprehension as Curry anticipates returning Tuesday for Game 2 of the Western Conference semifinals against New Orleans. He may or may not need a few minutes to get up to speed.

“I’m not too worried about him,” coach Steve Kerr said after practice Monday. “I’ve seen him come back from injuries many times.”

Curry’s comeback games tend to be fantastic. It’s as if he comes out of the locker room looking to punish the opponent before him to erase the memories of the opponents he missed.

Three times in the past four seasons, Curry has missed significant time and he followed the first of those instances with one of the most unforgettable performances in NBA postseason history.

After missing 15 days with a Grade 1 MCL sprain in his right knee in 2016, Curry returned May 9 at Portland and, after taking some time to warm up, floored the Trail Blazers in Game 4. He went 6-of-18 from the field over the first three quarters, and then went 11-of-14 in the fourth quarter and overtime.

 

Curry scored 40 points, 10 in the fourth quarter and an NBA-record 17 in OT in a 132-125 win, giving the Warriors a 3-1 series lead as they returned to the Bay Area.

He missed his first nine 3-point shots, and then went 5-of-7 from deep. He was on a 25-minute restriction. He played 40.

“That was epic,” said Shaun Livingston, who was ejected from that game.

Twice this season, Curry has had to sit for extended periods. Both times, he came back shooting to thrill.

Curry missed six games over 15 days after tweaking his right ankle early in a 110-107 win over the Spurs on March 8. Upon returning March 23 against the Hawks, Curry posted 29 points and seven rebounds in a 106-94 victory.

He missed his first four shots beyond the arc but then drained 4-of-5. After scoring 13 points on 5-of-11 shooting in the first half, scored 16 on 5-of-7 (3-of-4 from deep) in less than nine third-quarter minutes.

He sat in the fourth quarter as the Warriors closed the win.

When Curry missed 11 games over 26 days in December, he returned Dec. 30 and proceeded to annihilate the Memphis Grizzlies. He did it without needing any time to find his rhythm.

He was 13-of-17 from the field. He was 10-of-13 from deep. He scored 7 points in the first quarter, 14 in the second, 14 in third and only 3 (on his only shot, a 3-pointer) in less than two minutes in the fourth.

Curry scored 38 points in 26 minutes in a 141-128 victory.

“There are very few players capable of sitting out that long and coming back and really being themselves,” Livingston said. “That’s the hardest thing to do.

“Some guys are just gamers, and Steph has that ability.”

Though there is no knowing what Curry has in store for Tuesday night, he is eager to get back on the court and thought he could have played in Game 1 on Saturday.

The Warriors, up 1-0 in the series, seem to be breathing easy. They know there is a good chance Curry will deliver something memorable.