Reigning NBA MVP Stephen Curry is a league-best plus-14.1 per game this season. With him off the court, the Golden State Warriors are minus-2.8 per game.
The guard was ruled out of Tuesday’s rematch of a game eight days ago in which Curry led his Warriors (53-5) to 102-92 come-from-behind victory over the Atlanta Hawks (33-27).
Curry, who has struggled with ankle problems since entering the league in 2009, had his ankle stepped on by Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook in a Warrior win just three days ago.
Defensive ace, and sixth man, Andre Iguodala is also questionable with a hamstring injury.
Steve Kerr believes the shoes of his two team leaders would be filled by a group rather than an individual:
“If Steph doesn’t go, I’ll start Shaun Livingston, beyond that, we’ll see. If Andre doesn’t go then we’ve got guys that can fill in — Brandon (Rush), Ian Clark and (Leandro Barbosa) — they’ve all played very well for us this year. … The coaches and I talked about different combinations today, and we’ll find the ones that work, hopefully.”
The group of Livingston (6.2 points per game), Rush (4.5 PPG), Clark (4.2 PPG) and Barbosa (6.3 PPG) have each been forced into larger roles prior this season. All doing so admirably.
While the four guards serve as valuable role players, however, replacing the reigning regular-season and Finals MVPs will come to their fellow All-Star teammates.
Along with Curry, only guard Klay Thompson and forward Draymond Green brag average point differentials in positive double-digits – 13.8 for Green and 11.9 for Thompson.
Two-time All-Star Thompson scored 27 points on 10-23 shooting in 37 minutes a week ago in Atlanta. Green wrangled a team-high 14 rebounds, adding nine assists and six points in 38 minutes.
The two will need to step up their top-level came even more, though, to make up for the league’s leading scorer, and the guy who is having the best season in modern basketball history if player efficiency ratings are a legitimate indicator.
Kerr was also forced to diffuse suspected turmoil in his locker room, which has been lauded for elite chemistry.
During the halftime of yet another comeback victory the Thunder, Green was heard yelling and cursing at teammates and coaches.
A player who has earned great respect from teammates and opponents alike, Green is known for playing with passion. After the game, capped off by a single-game record-tying, game-winning 3-pointer, Kerr told reporters that the actions were a non-factor.
Prior to Tuesday’s game, Kerr added to the claim:
“As a team, we’re past it. I would say it reminds me of several incidents of every single year on every team I’ve ever been on.”