By all accounts, the news about Steph Curry’s knee injury in the NBA playoffs was about the best the Golden State Warriors could have gotten. The star point guard is injured for at least two weeks with a sprained MCL after slipping on the court in a game against the Houston Rockets; an MRI showed the sprain to be the most minor of its type. In a game where an awkward fall can mean an 18-month absence, Curry’s comparatively small break is a respite for the Warriors. But it could still cost them the only thing that matters: an NBA championship.
In the hours after news of Curry’s injury broke, Vegas oddsmakers dropped the Warriors, overwhelming favorites to win the title for the entire season, down behind the San Antonio Spurs. If Curry returns to the court after two weeks, he’d be back in the middle of the second round of the playoffs. But he might take a little longer to rehabilitate, or return in a slightly diminished state, and those variables could be enough to knock what was statistically the greatest team in NBA regular-season history (finishing with a record-setting 73-9 record) into also-ran territory.
Before Curry’s injury, the Warriors were cruising toward a repeat of the NBA title they won last season, having beaten the legendary-wins record of the 1996 Chicago Bulls and perfecting the free-flowing offense that had made them such a phenomenon in the league. But Curry was pivotal to all of that: His ability to shoot three-pointers at prodigious quantity and efficiency had led him to a historic year from a statistical standpoint, one that made it almost impossible to devise an effective defense for him. On the rare occasions that Golden State lost over the 2015-2016 NBA season, Curry might have an (atypical) off shooting night.