Fans and coaches for the Golden State Warriors’ breathed a sigh of relief last night after landing a 115-106 victory over the Rockets. The Warriors headed into the game without their MVP point guard Stephen Curry, who sat out due to an ankle injury.
Curry hurt his right ankle last Saturday in the series opener against Houston. The ankle twisted as he made a sharp turn to defense after missing a shot as the game neared half-time. His coaches tried to play him in the second half, but it quickly became clear that Curry wasn’t able to perform to his standards.
Even with Curry sidelined, the Warriors were still able to pull off a 104-78 win, proving once again that the Golden State team is consistently able to dominate Houston without Stephen Curry, a feat that was accomplished earlier this season on Dec. 31, with a score of 114-110.
With important games ahead, the decision to sit Curry or play him through the injury weighs heavily on Warriors’ coach Steve Kerr. “We’d never want to put winning ahead of a player’s career and his health. We’ve seen teams do that and paid for it.”
Sitting on 2-0 in the playoffs, coach Kerr believes in his team’s ability to persevere if Curry were to sit out for game 3. “We’ll see how he responds the next couple of days, and if he’s not right, obviously being up 2-0- does give us more cushion if we decide to sit him. But it will be based on his health, not the series score.”
Kerr is hyper-cautious of Curry’s right ankle since it underwent multiple surgeries towards the beginning of his career. After several X-rays, MRIs, and CAT scans failed to diagnosed the problem, Curry’s physicians used a small laparoscopic camera to view the complex subtalar joints of Curry’s severely inflamed ankle. There, they found thickened scar tissue, bone spurs, and fragments of cartilage, which had to be surgically scraped away and removed with a vacuum to allow the ankle to heal naturally.
“Curry has had issues with the ankle for many years and will eventually need some form of definitive repair of the ankle,” says Dr. Bob Baravarian, Chief of Podiatric Surgery at Santa Monica UCLA Medical Center. “For now, the goal is to keep him playing till the off-season and that means protection and vigilant care with bracing and therapy.”
The team doctors as well as Coach Kerr understand the importance of prioritizing Curry’s recovery over achieving the team’s short-term goals. Playing on an unstable ankle could aggravate the injury, increasing the risk for a career-altering sprain or tendon tear. Acute injuries are common in basketball and other sports that require quick acceleration and changes in direction. Proper rehabilitation is necessary to prevent further injury and chronic pain.
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