Warriors

Why the Warriors are smart to keep Steph Curry out vs. Raptors

Why the Warriors are smart to keep Steph Curry out vs. Raptors

Regarding the return of Stephen Curry, the Warriors are proceeding exactly as they should.

They’re ignoring Curry’s wishes and listening to the experts.

So the two-time MVP will be a spectator Thursday in Toronto and return to the floor Saturday, when the Warriors face the Pistons at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit.

Though this douses much of the flame attached to the Warriors-Raptors game Thursday, it’s entirely sensible. The Warriors know better than any team in today’s NBA that one game in November, no matter how spicy the matchup, doesn’t register a blip on the only that scale that matters, the one that measures postseason magnitude and consequence.

“He’s looked great the last several days, scrimmaging, shooting the ball, his movement,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr told reporters at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto. “To me he looks like he’s ready to go. That’s the great news.

“If this were playoff game, he would absolutely be playing. But it’s November.”

[RELATED: Biggest road trip of 2018]

Curry, who has been out since sustaining a groin strain on Nov. 8, is eager to play. He participated in a scrimmage on Monday, practiced on Tuesday in Oakland and went through light drills again Wednesday upon arriving in Toronto.

There are a number of reasons behind Curry’s deep desire to play Thursday. It’s Toronto, where he spent a portion of his childhood when his father, Dell, was a member of the Raptors. That the Raptors sit atop the Eastern Conference and own the best record (18-4) in the NBA is alluring. Moreover, he feels he is ready.

But Rick Celebrini, the team’s director of sports medicine and performance, is holding up the red light.

“We obviously have a lot of smart people that are taking care of us and trying to make sure that we’re protected from ourselves in certain situations,” Curry said. “It’s been three weeks or so, so I’m itching to get back.”

Curry says is he “symptom-free,” that the rush of excitement he has felt the past few days – certainly Wednesday when team boarded a flight to Toronto – is contributed to his disappointment at sitting out another game.

“You feel like you know how your body feels and you wake up and get excited thinking maybe you’re a little further along than you are,” he said. “When you get that close, every game that you have to wait, it’s tough.”

[RELATED: Curry 'in the best place']

Nine times out of 10, the athlete is the last person who should determine when it’s time to resume action. Nearly always, they want to play before they should. That’s definitely true in the case of Curry, who is nothing if not a basketball junkie.

The Warriors don’t care what he thinks. Maybe if he becomes a physician they’ll listen

“We’re never going to look back and go, ‘Man, I wish we had played him on Toronto,’” Warriors coach Steve Kerr told reporters in Toronto. “But the opposite would definitely be true. We could look back and say, ‘What were we thinking? Why didn’t we give him another couple days.’

“So caution is the word of the day.”

The game on Thursday is one of 82, as is the game on Saturday. There are no bonus points awarded based on the status of the teams. Not until the second season.

So Detroit it is, as it should be.

Warriors’ still-mounting injuries a big blow to young players’ development

Warriors’ still-mounting injuries a big blow to young players’ development

SAN FRANCISCO -- In the waning moments of the Warriors' latest loss Friday night, their bench resembled the front row of a fashion show more than a functioning NBA roster.

Toward the end of the bench, All-Star guard Stephen Curry sat in a black suit jacket, covering a massive cast protecting his broken left hand. To Curry's left, center Kevon Looney sat in a gray suit, his immediate future in peril as he continues to seek answers about an injured hamstring.

That type of visual has become commonplace over the last month.

Over that stretch, 11 Warriors players have been sidelined with injuries, crippling a roster that seemed armed with an outside shot of making the playoffs on opening night just three weeks ago.

The latest blow came Saturday morning, when an MRI confirmed that D'Angelo Russell had suffered a sprained thumb, sidelining him for at least two weeks. Over his previous six games, the guard had averaged 29.7 points on 48 percent shooting from the field, including a 52-point, nine-rebound performance against Minnesota, so his absence will be felt.

That's because the Warriors are in roster transition, marked by their youthful core.

When Jordan Poole and Eric Paschall were drafted in June, the expectation was that the rookies would be brought along slowly, learning behind Golden State's battered All-Star cast. The myriad injuries changed that, though, forcing both into more minutes than initially anticipated.

While Paschall has flourished in that spot (15.6 points and 4.6 rebounds in 30.8 minutes per game), Poole has struggled. Since Curry's injury in the fourth game of the season, Poole has shot 29 percent from the field, and he has hit just five of his last 28 shots over his last two contests.

The trickle-down effect started on the eve of training camp, when Warriors general manager Bob Myers announced that center Willie Cauley-Stein would miss most of October with a foot strain. Two days later, rookie Alen Smailagic rolled his ankle and Looney strained his hamstring in the same controlled scrimmage.

Last month, Curry broke his hand, sidelining the guard until at least February. Two nights later, forward Draymond Green tore a ligament in his left index finger. On Monday, two-way guard Damion Lee fractured his hand.

Amid all those injuries, Warriors coach Steve Kerr trotted out his ninth starting lineup of the season Friday, with two-way guard Ky Bowman at the point. For a moment, it worked.

Midway through the third quarter, Bowman intercepted a pass, ran cross court and dunked over Grant Williams, cutting the Celtics' lead to three. Two minutes later, Alec Burk stripped Boston guard Brandon Wanamaker, setting up a fast-break layup that gave Golden State a brief 82-80 lead before the Celtics rallied and held on in the fourth quarter.

The Warriors' current reality is much different than their immediate past. After winning 78 percent of their games over five years, they now find themselves with a roster that lost Kevin Durant to free agency, while Curry and Klay Thompson's rehabs are expected to last until at least February. Their 2-11 record is the NBA's worst.

[RELATED: How die-hard Warriors fans can stay optimistic]

Minutes after the final buzzer Friday, there were reminders of potential hopes lost. Curry's hand swelled out of his cast as he walked near a team official. In the locker room, Paschall sported an ice pack on his right hand, and Poole reconciled an ankle injury that he said wouldn't affect him.

As the Warriors packed for another road trip, potentially with just eight healthy bodies for the foreseeable future, another reminder that the team's development is coming at a hefty price was evident.

Warriors' D'Angelo Russell out at least two weeks with right thumb sprain

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USATSI

Warriors' D'Angelo Russell out at least two weeks with right thumb sprain

Add another one to the list.

After leaving Friday night’s loss to the Celtics with a thumb injury, an MRI has confirmed a right thumb sprain for All-Star guard D'Angelo Russell.

Russell will not travel with the team on the upcoming four-game road trip and will be re-evaluated in two weeks.

Golden State’s already lengthy injury report adds another name, as the team now stands with just nine healthy players as the team embarks for New Orleans on Saturday to kick off the trip.