It wasnt long ago that Stephen Currys ankle was the maintopic of conversation when it came to the Warriors. After spraining his ankleon Jan. 4 against San Antonio the third time hed done it in a two-week period Curry missed eight consecutive games.Curry has now played in four straight games heading intoTuesdays meeting with the Sacramento Kings.Curry talked about how his ankle is feeling after Mondayspractice.Question: How does your anklefeel?Curry: The ankle is feeling good. Itdoesnt respond well after games. It takes me a while to get back, get thesoreness out of it. But during the games I dont think about it, it feels good.You can be in shape or what you think is in decent shape to play, but when itgets to the schedule we have and being ready in the fourth quarter thats aprocess after missing so much time.So, still working on being in shape for the minutes Implaying. But Im doing pretty well.Question: Do you feel the differencebetween giving it two-plus weeks to heal and just two games or so?Curry: Honestly I didnt at first becauseit was still a little sore after games. You can feel it, though, how strongits stayed over the course of these last few games as compared tobefore.Obviously this is the most Ive played consecutively sincethe season started, but pain-wise, its felt the same. Weve been able to avoidanother incident, a non-contact turn of the ankle. Thats kind of an example ofhow its different now than how we approached it in the past.Will it always hurt?Curry I hope not. Its a full-timecommitment to try to rehab every day and do extra stuff to get my ankle right. Hopefullyus staying on top of it now and me continuing to play on it will help me getthrough this. So, next year when Icome back it will just be a normal ankle and I can keep going and keep pushinghard.
There are no more ways to extol the virtues of the Golden State Warriors without redundancy. They have owned three consecutive regular seasons and three consecutive Western Conference playoffs, and just finished savaging the last one faster than any team since the 2001 Los Angeles Lakers, who didn’t have to play as many games as these Warriors did.
But now the season begins, and in the pass-fail world of the NBA Finals, this is the one that will define the Warriors for the ages.
After mugging the San Antonio Spurs, 129-115, to close out the West final in the minimum number of sanctioned events, the Warriors now wait for the resolution of Cleveland-Boston to begin the final assault on their destiny.
They did so without giving in to their occasional predilection for easing up on the throttle. They took an early lead, widened it slowly and carefully and made damned sure the Spurs never felt like they could do as the Celtics had done the night before in Cleveland. The Warriors were coldly efficient (well, okay, those 17 turnovers were bothersome but not ultimately an issue) at both ends of the floor and all points inbetween, and the result and its margin were both fair representations of the difference between the two teams.
In dispatching the Spurs, they became the first team ever to put 120 points on a Gregg Popovich-coached team three consecutive times; indeed the only time Popovich ever had one of his teams allow 120 in back-to-back games was when the 2005 team that eventually won the NBA title beat the Los Angeles Clippers and Warriors, both in overtime.
And while this series will be remembered as the one in which the Spurs had the least amount of weaponry, it will also be the one in which the Warriors will be remembered for wasting only one of the eight halves they played. It is difficult, in other words, to make the case that San Antonio would have won the series even with Kawhi Leonard and Tony Parker. We do know it would still be going on, but the outcome seems only slightly more in doubt in such a case.
But as this affects the Warriors, this next series will dictate all of it. Win, and they can claim a mini-dynasty. Lose, and they will damned in the court of public opinion in ways that make last year’s 3-1 memes seem downright charitable.
It is the price they pay for being very good already and then adding Kevin Durant without giving up anything of real substance. It’s the price they pay for wanting it all and then doubling down for more.
People and teams who did that are not treated kindly unless they win everything that can be won, and the Warriors are now that team – like the Yankees of lore and Patriots of today, they are the standard of both excellence and excess, and marrying the two without danger is not possible, as they learned a year ago.
But that was then, Draymond Green’s wayward hand and five minutes of 0-for-everything shooting is just history. They can adapt and avenge if not eradicate the hard lesson of 2016 and be thought of as the team they all believe themselves to be.
All they have to do is take the Celtics or Cavaliers and ender them inert. They don’t have to do it in four games; chasing numbers is a fool’s errand as they discovered last year chasing the now-meaningless 73.
They just have to do it four times, and if they play as they have, winning 12 consecutive games by an average margin of 16 points and change against three other quality teams, they will succeed at the hardest level basketball can create. And whatever people may say of them good or ill, they will have achieved what was demanded of them by both supporter and detractor alike.
And that, to paraphrase Kevin Durant, is what they came to do. Win the thing, and not worry about the numbers -- especially not the style points.
After beating the Spurs 129-115, the Warriors are headed back to the NBA Finals. Here's what they are saying...
Fo, Fo, Fo— Tim Roye (@warriorsvox) May 23, 2017
Cleveland or Boston? pic.twitter.com/Imcj7gLd9Y— Adonal Foyle (@afoyle3131) May 23, 2017