Kurtenbach: Warriors need every bit of injured Curry in Game 4 — and much more from teammates

BOSTON — Whatever Steph Curry has, the Warriors need it for Game 4.

And they’ll need a whole lot more, too.

The Warriors’ star guard said Thursday that he sprained his left foot late during an on-court scrum in Game 3. It’s the same foot that he injured in March against the Celtics while going for a loose ball.

That last foot sprain kept Curry out of the Warriors’ final 12 regular-season games and had him coming off the bench to start the postseason.

This injury is not as bad. Curry was able to play a bit on it after the skirmish, and the guard said that he will play in Game 4.

He left no room for interpretation.

“I’m going to play. That’s all I know right now,” Curry said.

As for everything else — that’s to be determined.

“When I did it in the regular season, I knew right away that something was severely wrong,” Curry said. “Last night I knew I was hurt, but it was not as bad. I could kind of gauge whether I should stay out there or not and not do any more damage. That’s why I’m very confident I’m going to play tomorrow and keep it moving.

You become your own doctor to a certain extent based on all the different episodes that you’ve had. I don’t know if that’s a good thing or not, but it is what it is.”

What it is for the Warriors is that their most important player — and there is no close No. 2 — is less than 100 percent.

And even 100 percent of Curry has not been good enough to avoid a 2-1 deficit and another must-win game Friday night.

Only one team in NBA Finals history has come back from a 3-1 deficit. The Warriors are deeply familiar with that tidbit.

This is everything. Curry wouldn’t miss this game unless he couldn’t walk. For what it’s worth, he only had a slight limp walking up to the dais for Thursday’s media session. Infer what you will there.

There’s one inference that will certainly keep happening: the percentage guessing game will be played ad nauseam.

He’s forty percent healthy. No, seventy. He’s actually 90 percent. No, you’re wrong, he’s just 85.

It’s all nonsensical and embarrassingly arbitrary.

But what Curry cannot be in Game 4 is a lesser version of himself. Not if Game 5 is to mean something. Not if this Warriors team is to stand a chance to win a title.

Boston’s defense is long and switches close to everything. It’s forced the Warriors to be very unlike themselves since the start of this series.

Instead of their back-cutting, off-ball-screening, free-flowing offense, the Warriors have become everything they once stood against: a straight pick-and-roll team.

Curry has done well with the change. The Warriors are averaging 1.16 points per possession when he’s on the floor, and he has a stunning 33 percent usage rate — the highest number of anyone in the series by 15 percent and up 13 percent from his regular-season rate.

The Warriors have been so lost without Curry on offense that they’re trying to buy minutes where he’s off the court. They haven’t been able to find many.

An adjustment that seemed inevitable for Game 4 was the Warriors playing Curry the full second half — all 24 minutes.

The foot injury makes such a change highly improbable.

That means that the Warriors don’t only need as much as Curry can give them, but they also need a whole lot more from his teammates.

Klay Thompson needs to have another good game — and not disappear in the fourth quarter as he did Wednesday night. Draymond Green needs to pretend that Game 3 never happened and channel his Game 2 vibes. The Warriors need Jordan Poole to play like a borderline All-Star for a full game, not just a few seconds. Andrew Wiggins has been steady, but now they need him to be spectacular.

“I think we just need to help Steph in general,” Thompson said. “He has been incredible this series. We’ll all do our best. I think we’ll respond. I think we’ll come correct tomorrow, and I’m just excited for the opportunity. We still have a chance to even out the series and take home-court advantage.”

Let’s be clear: The Warriors’ season — and any chance at another banner — is on the line Friday night and the team can’t guarantee that its most important player will be able to play anything like himself.

If that’s the case once the game tips, the Warriors are cooked in this series. But they can delay the inevitable.

And if Curry’s supporting cast steps up and Curry adds to his legend with a great game, despite his balky foot, it’s game on in San Francisco next Monday.

Contributed by local news sources

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