Curry’s slip could change NBA Finals result

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A wet spot on the floor at Houston’s Toyota Center took out the MVP.

How long Stephen Curry will ultimately wind up sitting out remains to be seen – his MRI results came in on Monday – but a Grade I MCL sprain of his knee is going to cost him time.

For now, Golden State will have to survive without the NBA’s leading scorer for at least two weeks until he’s re-evaluated, but, potentially, we may not see him again this postseason.

Sportsbooks temporarily took all futures bets on projected Finals matchups, NBA championships and conference winners off the board as they awaited news on Curry, anticipating the Spurs and Cavs would pass the Warriors as favorites to win the title for the first time all season.

The news that it was Grade I and not a Grade II brought sighs of relief in the Bay area, since a more significant sprain would require a six-week recovery, costing him the rest of the season even if Golden State qualified for the Finals.

As things stand now, he’ll take a few weeks off, watching his teammates eliminate Houston before likely missing the first few games of a series against either the Clippers or Trail Blazers.

That variable will certainly play a major factor in the Western Conference race, since there’s now pressure on L.A. to defeat Portland in five games since the payoff would then be an earlier start date for the Western Conference semifinals. Playing Golden State without Curry in Oakland mitigates a huge disadvantage, so the Clippers could certainly hope to steal a game before attempting to take control of the series at Staples Center, which gives them an opportunity to potentially be up 3-1 before the earliest time frame for a potential Curry return arrives.

Keep in mind, that’s a best case scenario provided there are no complications with his recovery. The Warriors immediately become immense Trail Blazers fans, because if Portland can extend the Clips to a sixth or seventh game, Curry would be under no pressure to try and return early.

The Western Conference semifinals wouldn’t start until sometime in May under that scenario, which would give Curry a shot at being back for a Game 3.

Golden State is in the unenviable position of needing to do right by the face of their franchise, valuing his long-term health and importance above all, but knowing there’s a sense of urgency involved like none other, especially since Curry has already proven he’ll push to play at all costs.

Over the past few months, my concern over just how the energy that the defending champions were expending chasing the immortality the ’95-’96 Bulls had achieved was expressed multiple times. You could see the physical toll it was taking, specifically on Curry, who hadn’t been 100 percent since suffering a bruised lower leg on Dec. 28, then spraining his ankle multiple times over the final months of the regular season.

Golden State is incredibly deep and talented, but the time to look elsewhere to pick an NBA champion may be upon us. I’ve already had the Spurs as my projected winner all season, sticking by them even when the Warriors managed to win two key late games against them in full pursuit of 73 wins.

The rationale was always that San Antonio would be the fresher team when late May rolled around due to how they handled the regular-season. Kawhi Leonard averaged 33 minutes per game, same as Curry, No Spurs player logged more action.

The Warriors will now have to win a few games without their superstar before easing him back in with the bullets flying. I don’t see them surviving this.

Stick with Golden State to win a second straight NBA title at your own risk.

Tony Mejia is a national sports writer and senior contributor at VegasInsider.com. He’s also the owner and operator of Antony Dinero, the most successful documented volume handicapper in the industry. View his analysis daily at VegasInsider.com. Email: [email protected].

About the Author
Tony Mejia

Tony Mejia

Tony Mejia has been a national writer for nearly two decades and has covered NBA and college basketball as a columnist, analyst, handicapper, and bracketologist for CBS Sports, Pro Basketball News, and numerous other sites.

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