The Warriors are 54-5 and on a pace to win more games than any other team in NBA history. They’ve won 43 games in a row at Oracle Arena, where they’re hoping to become the first team to ever go through a season unbeaten at home.
They have the most exciting team and the most exciting player in the NBA in Stephen Curry. Because of that, Warriors tickets are the hottest in the Bay Area and the hottest in the entire league. Everybody wants to see the Warriors. And everybody wants to see Curry.
Add it all up and you realize it’s not as simple as you think to sit out Curry because of a left ankle injury or to a lesser degree Andre Iguodala because of left hamstring tightness. Curry and Iguodala are listed as questionable for tonight’s game against the Thunder. But it feels more complicated than that.
In a perfect world, it wouldn’t be that big of a deal to rest Curry and Iguodala for tonight’s game. After all, they’re holding the top seed in the Western Conference and there are going to be bigger games down the line.
But that’s not the way it is. Curry’s playing status dominated the talk at Wednesday’s practice and it’s sure to dominate the conversation in the hours leading up to the game. Because of the way this historic season is going, even the simplest of so-called decisions have become tricky.
Here’s Warriors general manager Bob Myers, on 95.7-FM The Game, on Thursday going into way too much detail on Curry’s status, and all that goes into the decision of whether he’ll play in a game or not.
Is Curry going to play tonight? Is Iguodala going to play? With the playoffs just six weeks or so away, why in the world would you play these guys if they’re banged up? It doesn’t make sense.
But whether they like to acknowledge it or not, the Warriors are chasing history and that’s likely playing into the decision. Sure, it’s no big deal if Curry and Iguodala sit out tonight, but both players know that by not playing the possibility becomes greater Golden State could lose a game – and therefore give themselves less of a chance to win 73 games this year. You can’t tell me that’s not entering into the thinking of both players.
Last year the Warriors rested Stephen Curry for a game in Denver and they found themselves getting some backlash for it. Warriors owner Joe Lacob has said in the past he doesn’t like the idea of resting players at home. Of course, if Curry doesn’t play tonight it will because of injury rather than rest, but the point remains: There is pressure on the Warriors to put on a show at home. And there is pressure for everyone – Curry in particular – to play.
It was obvious from the start of the season that the Warriors had a chip on their shoulder, wanting to prove to the basketball world that last year’s title was no fluke. It’s not only enough for the Warriors to win, they want to win in impressive, no-doubt-about-it fashion. And to do that, it surely helps if they’re at full strength.
In the grand scheme of things a couple of players sitting out with nagging injuries in early March isn’t a big deal at all. But when you’re the Warriors, and you’re chasing history, and you’ve got a standard to uphold and an excitement level to reach, these decisions aren’t as easy as they used to be.
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