Curry's Back! But The Warriors Should Tread Carefully In Game 5.

How should the Warriors manage Curry as they attempt to close out the series? It may not be a simple answer...

After Game 4 of Warriors/Blazers, Kerr sat down for his customary post-game presser and began it by saying he had an important announcement to make – Curry would be starting Game 5 on Wednesday. He flashed a smile a moment later to let us know that he had expected a laugh from the reporters. Of course Steph would start Game 5. After taking a few quarters to warm up in Game 4, he had found his stroke again and completely demolished the Blazers in the final stretch of the game. He outscored them all by himself in Overtime. Sometimes, it seems as if Curry is adding to his legacy every time he steps on the court, but last night he managed to reach new heights.

In reality though, there was a reason Kerr’s joke landed like a dud. No one knows exactly how the Warriors will or should manage Curry for the rest of this series. Jokes aside, Kerr knows he must tread lightly as he manages minutes in Game 5. The Blazers are the lesser team, and with a 3-1 lead, the Warriors can feel confident they have the series in hand. The team that has never lost two games in a row this season now has three chances to send the Blazers packing. The imperative goal now is to get to round 2 intact, with all injuries behind them. Curry has already demonstrated in these playoffs how fragile and fickle injury fate can be, and the Warriors have no margin for error moving forward. As well as the Warriors have played without their MVP, losing Curry for any period of time in the next series could spell doom.

Curry spent most of Monday afternoon still listed as a game time decision, and he came out and said just this afternoon that “there was some conversation about waiting until Game 5, and honestly there was some soreness left and I wasn’t 100%.” Go ahead and take a moment to recognize that the man who wasn’t 100% spent last night’s crunch time raining hellfire on the city of Portland. Once that’s done with, recognize the fact that Curry was sore before he played 37 intensive minutes for the first time in 3 weeks. With game 5 coming on a rather quick turnaround, the Warriors must recognize that another full work load for Steph should be avoided.

ON THE OTHER HAND, the Warriors have to be staring at Game 5 and licking their lips. The Spurs and Thunder are taking turns walloping each other to pieces, and that series is set to last at least 6 games. Whoever comes out of that bloodbath will be gasping for air. A quick closeout on Wednesday night, Curry can have two good games under his belt and the Warriors could take a much needed moment to recharge before their next series. That has to be a tempting thought. Draymond and Klay have averaged a lot of minutes so far, while shouldering greater offensive loads than usual. As important as Curry’s health is, the Warriors place is just as precarious if they lose one of their other stars. The Warriors should feel confident that with Curry back in the fold and the home crowd behind them, they can end the series on their terms.

This is also a team that has also been aware of their standing in the history books. They made no bones about chasing records from the get go, and they are hungry to prove they are the best team of all time. The best team of all time does not end up in a six or seven game series against the Blazers, especially when the Spurs or Thunder loom on the horizon. The greatest teams of all time, including the ‘96 Bulls, ’01 Lakers, and ’83 Sixers, have all dropped a game or two in the playoffs, but they haven’t dropped many. The Warriors know that, and they know that history doesn’t allow for excuses like Curry’s injuries.

I’m sure Kerr and the Warriors coaching staff is aware of all of this, and they’ll make their decisions based on information we’re simply not privy to. What I hope and expect though, is to see Curry play something more like 25-28 minutes, and to have his time maximized with the best lineups. The Small Ball Death Squad of Curry-Klay-Iggy-Barnes-Green has banished opponents to the shadow realm all season, outscoring opponents by +47 points per 100 possessions. The Warriors might be wise to deploy that lineup early tonight, whenever they first smell blood. If you can turn a small lead into a big one early in this game, and get out quickly, that would be ideal for everyone. Either way, I’ll be tuned in on Wednesday night, and ready to watch this team continue to make its case for greatest of all time.

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