The Golden State Warriors took a gamble during a home game against the Atlanta Hawks.
Unfortunately, they lost all their chips.
Two-time MVP Stephen Curry tentatively returned to the Dubs’ lineup after missing several games courtesy of a right ankle sprain. Fans were hopeful that Curry’s return would spark the Warriors, and in the first three quarters, he recorded 29 points in just 25 minutes of play.
The return and burst of energy were short-lived.
In the third quarter, fellow Warrior JaVale McGee fell backwards into Curry’s leg, causing him to limp almost instantly and forcing him to leave the game. A grim diagnosis quickly determined the injury to be a grade 2 MCL sprain, historically a setback of several weeks.
While the Warriors emerged with a win over Atlanta and Curry still held the title of leading scorer at the buzzer, the night certainly wasn’t a victory in the long term.
There’s no question that Steph’s second significant injury this season puts a sizable dent in the Dubs’ playoff outlook. At the team’s lowest point last month, the Big Four — Curry, Draymond Green, Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant — were all absent for two consecutive losses against Indiana and Utah at home.
Green, Durant and Thompson have since returned from their respective injuries, but the Warriors’ rhythm has looked out of sorts for some time now.
Curry’s may return in the semifinals and head coach Steve Kerr says there is “no way” he will play in the first round of the playoffs. The implications of that go without saying.
Even with Curry on the floor, the Dubs looked weak. The Warriors trailed for nearly the entire first 32 minutes before finally pulling ahead with 3:30 left in the third quarter. To Quinn Cook and the bench’s credit, they maintained and expanded that lead for the remainder of the game.
Overall, Golden State finished the month of March with just five wins in their last 11 games, a stretch that saw the Houston Rockets clinch the top seed in the Western Conference.
Granted, the Big Four’s time on the court together has been extremely limited recently, which has put a cap on the Warriors’ performance. But their susceptibility to a plethora of injuries this season suggests that more could be lurking.
Green has endured a shoulder injury in October, a dinged-up elbow in December, a pelvic contusion in March and flu-like symptoms on two separate occasions. Curry has suffered an ankle sprain and now an MCL sprain. Meanwhile, Durant has been hampered by a rib fracture for the past couple of weeks, and Thompson had been sidelined with a fracture in his right thumb. To put it lightly, the Warriors look a little vulnerable.
One thing is for sure — the Dubs are looking less dominant heading into playoff season this year than in recent years. The West, especially Houston, is licking its chops at the opportunity to potentially battle a weaker Warriors team. Stay tuned in the coming weeks, which will be a crucial health meter for the Big Four and the Warriors as a whole.
Mitchell Horn writes for Bear Bytes, the Daily Californian’s sports blog. Contact him at