Curry injury likely to be blessing in disguise for Warriors

While many Warriors fans seem to be concerned and a little bit pessimistic about Stephen Curry’s latest injury – a shin bruise – there’s a whole other way to look at it: This is a blessing in disguise for Curry and the team.

Curry is expected to play tonight against the Blazers in Portland. But beyond that, like Saturday at Sacramento, who knows? That doesn’t mean the injury (called a lower leg injury by the team) is serious though. Not at all.

From the owner, to the general manager to the medical staff to Curry, the player himself, nobody believes this injury is a big deal. Curry has a bruise in his shin and it hurts. When he gets hit there it really, really hurts. That’s why he’ll wear shin guards in Portland tonight.

But if there’s an upside to a bruise, the Warriors have found it.

We all know that if the Warriors had their way, Luke Walton or Steve Kerr would like the option to rest players at the time of their choosing in the next few months. The Warriors are 33-2 and are a lock for one of the top two playoff seeds in the Western Conference. It’s not at all too early to start thinking about being as healthy and prepared as possible by Game 1 of the first round of the playoffs in late April.

Hey, it’s what the Spurs do and they’ve fared pretty well. Problem is, the Warriors aren’t the Spurs. The Warriors are just starting out on this process of being consistently elite – or so they hope – and whether they like it or not sitting their star players on the road is going to come with some backlash.

When it comes to resting healthy players, it’s easy for an organization to say, “We’re doing what’s best for the team.” Which is the way it should be. Still, there is a small cost for doing this. It doesn’t look good and it has practical implications for an organization.

Last March, Kerr rested Curry, Klay Thompson and Andre Iguodala in a game at Denver. The Warriors lost the game 114-101, but it didn’t sit well with many. There’s just something about players sitting out when they’re healthy that bothers a fan. It’s as understandable as doing what’s best for your team.

After the Denver game, the Warriors received an e-mail from a family in Boise, Idaho that was disappointed – to say the least – about missing Curry and the rest of the healthy scratches. But it was mostly Curry, who, of course, was the kid’s favorite player.

The e-mail talked about how much money the family had spent, how far it had come and how long it had been waiting for this game. It was the son’s first NBA game, and he wanted to see Curry.

If you think this kind of stuff doesn’t matter, think again. The Warriors ended up sending autographed stuff to the family, and Curry actually made a telephone call to the kid and apologized for not playing.

We can debate all day about whether Curry should have played, whether he should have said sorry to the kid or whether the family should have understood that these kinds of things happen in pro sports. Whatever. The reality is it’s something people disagree on.

Warriors general manager Bob Myers knows it, too. On more than one occasion this season, Myers has said that, yes, the Warriors have to be sensitive to when guys might sit and the circumstances. Which sort of defeats the purpose.

Back to the bruise.

One good thing about a bruise is that if you do rest it, it does get better. But as many know, if the pain is manageable it’s something you can play through. Pretty easily, in fact, if it’s not overly deep.

But as we all know, sometimes you can hit that bruise in the right spot (wrong spot?) and it hurts so bad that you become debilitated. The pain becomes too much and you actually can’t play without compensating. When that happens, you rest it, of course.

Curry has said that it will take at least four weeks of rest for the bruise to completely heal, and he’s not going to sit out. The beauty for the Warriors in the next month to six weeks is they can decide what’s not enough, what’s too much and what’s just right for Curry. And they can do it without the kind of criticism they got from that family in Boise.

Is that important? You’re darn right when you’re franchise brand is exploding nationally and you’ve found yourself the most popular team in the NBA. With all due respect to the Spurs when Tim Duncan sits out it’s a bummer but it’s not a calamity.

When Curry sits, it’s huge.

The Warriors are the most exciting team in the league and they have the league’s most exciting player. They’re playing a different kind of basketball and people from all over the country want to see it. They’re the hottest ticket in the NBA and they put on a show every time they take the stage … court.

Nobody wants to see a show without the ringleader, lead singer or headliner, you know?

If Golden State wants to steal some time off for Curry it can do it for the next while, and it can do it any way it wants, without guilt or repercussion. It’s a little thing, but it’s one less thing for the organization to worry about.

Here’s where else you can read and listen to Steinmetz:

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About Steinmetz

Matt Steinmetz is a veteran San Francisco Bay Area sports journalist. He covered the Golden State Warriors for Bay Area News Group for more than a decade before becoming a television analyst with Comcast SportsNet Bay Area. Steinmetz currently co-hosts the "Warriors WrapUp" show and "NBA This Week" on 95.7-FM The Game, the franchise's flagship station, in San Francisco. He also co-hosts the Sal and Steiny podcast.
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