After Steph Curry’s shoulder injury, what’s next for struggling Warriors?


INDIANAPOLIS – About 30 minutes after the Warriors fell to 2-13 on the road, Steph Curry sat in an immobile position at his locker in Indianapolis with his left arm dangling at his side. Training staff wrapped a huge pack of ice around the top and back of his injured shoulder. An already shaky situation for the Warriors had reached even greater turbulence.

Curry had 38 points on 19 shots late in the third quarter against the Pacers, expending so much energy that he delayed returning to the locker room at halftime to catch his breath. He had 27 points, but his team was 20 behind.

Curry was part of a quick comeback in the third quarter. The Warriors started Jonathan Kuminga in place of Kevon Looney and switched to a smaller, faster, more spaced offense that cut the Pacers lead from 20 to five in less than six minutes. Curry had 11 in the quarter and 38 for the game as he came in on a Jalen Smith drive, took all the ball while accidentally sending on another sketchy detour this Warriors season.

Curry immediately felt pain in his left shoulder. He grabbed for it, fell off the game, stumbled to the scorer’s table, and finally to the bench after the Warriors called a timeout. After a quick chat with Drew Yoder, the team’s director of medical services, who confirmed the worrying discomfort, Curry headed to the locker room with Rick Celebrini, their lead medical decision maker.

Here’s that moment.

In that clip, you can see Curry holding his left arm stationary. It still hung like that after the game as Curry wandered around the locker room, before and after he froze it. He is scheduled for an MRI on Thursday and plans to travel to Philadelphia with the team. Testing will give them a better idea of ​​a possible timeline, but the feeling from those around the team after the game was that the injury would force a sort of multi-game absence that would presumably continue for the rest of the road trip.

“Maybe it will be a bit more difficult when Steph is out for a while,” Steve Kerr said. “I mean, if he’s out, it’s definitely going to get harder. But we just have to hold on. You just keep playing and keep fighting.”

It wasn’t a despondent dressing room after the game. Besides the extra discomfort and treatment, Curry was in a normal mood. Assuming tests reveal no more substantial damage than initially expected, this could prove to be just a speed bump. But the 14-15 Warriors were already facing a solidifying challenge before their best player went down. The short term just got a lot trickier.

So what now?

This will be an important piece for Jordan Poole

When Curry went down in March with a sprained foot, Jordan Poole climbed to a whole other level. He led the NBA in made 3s in March and April, averaging 24.7 points on 47.3 percent on aggregate and 41.9 percent on depth.

They don’t necessarily need him to reach that pinnacle, but they will need Poole to be more efficient and protective with the ball than he has been lately. Poole went 8-of-22 shooting and made four turnovers against the Pacers. He went 6-of-17 with four turnovers to open the trip in Milwaukee. He has only made five of his last 23 attempts to 3.

“The biggest thing we’ve tried to work on with Jordan is to slow down,” said Kerr. “He’s just in a hurry. He’s got so much ability. I think sometimes it’s the guys with the most ability when they’re young who make the most mistakes because they’re trying to learn what they can and can’t do. He’s so gifted, so fast, so savvy that he regularly gets himself into trouble.”

Will we see more of Moses Moody?

Despite the absence of Andrew Wiggins and Klay Thompson, the Warriors didn’t go to Moses Moody against the Pacers for the first 18 minutes. Kerr had two-way player Ty Jerome ahead of Moody in the first rotation.

But the Warriors struggled on the field along with Jerome, Anthony Lamb and JaMychal Green. They were a minus-17 in Jerome’s first nine minutes. That prompted Kerr to throw Moody out of there. He hit a corner 3 and snuck onto the field in a layup for the first few minutes. Trailing by 20 at halftime, Kerr rearranged his rotation in the third quarter and Moody was the first substitute off the bench.

Moody finished with 13 points on 5-for-6 shooting, three assists and several other useful plays in the ballpark. Both Moody and Kuminga, who started the second half, played key roles in keeping the game competitive and nearly snatched away a late win. Green and Donte DiVincenzo also played major roles.

“I’m very happy with his game,” said Kerr when asked if Moody had earned more points. “He got his chances and took them. Every game is different. What made this year difficult is you’ve had different guys, different combinations and a lot of new people. So we’re trying to find the right combinations. But Moses did a great job and I imagine he will be there for the next game.”

Thompson will return against the Sixers on Friday. Wiggins will be re-evaluated on Thursday and his return is pending. So it can be hard to find Moody a lot of minutes on the wing, but it’s hard to imagine that he hasn’t earned a higher place in the pecking order than Jerome.

So what is the non-curry rotation?

If Wiggins can return soon it would be a starting line-up of Poole, Thompson, Wiggins, Draymond Green and Looney. Kuminga continues to work its way into a bigger piece of the rotational pie, and Kerr revealed on Wednesday that Kuminga is an option for the starters if they decide a faster style and different look is needed.

After Kuminga, DiVincenzo emerges as the most reliable option outside the bank. He started in place of Thompson on Wednesday night and had 15 points and eight rebounds, making a pair of vital threes to keep the Warriors in the straight. They were a plus-19 in DiVincenzo’s 38 minutes and a minus-24 in his 10 minutes on the bench.

“My focus is not on the offensive end,” he said. “It comes to me. But when I put pressure on the rim, good things happen. If I can go downhill, I can get shots from other people, the defense scrambles and the ball can find me again. If you play basketball the right way – and that’s the right way in my opinion, driving, kicking and swinging, all those moves – guys get good shots.

He has also become one of the silent leaders in the locker room.

“We needed more energy,” said DiVincenzo. “If things don’t go the way we want, if phone calls don’t go the way we want, there’s a default game for the Golden State Warriors. I think the biggest message is that we have to play like freaking warriors. That is the most important. We need that energy.”

What does the schedule look like?

Going 2-13 on the road, the Warriors complete this longest trip of the season with these four games: at Sixers, Raptors, Knicks, Nets. Those last two are back-to-back next week, Tuesday and Wednesday. They then have an extended break before starting an eight-game homestand against the Grizzlies at Christmas.

(Photo of Steph Curry grabbing his shoulder in the second half Wednesday night against the Pacers: Trevor Ruszkowski/USA Today)

The Valley Voice
The Valley Voice
Christopher Brito is a social media producer and trending writer for The Valley Voice, with a focus on sports and stories related to race and culture.


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