OAKLAND — Stephen Curry is rehabbing his injured right knee about three times a day, spending four to five hours at the Warriors’ practice facility to try to get back on the court for the defending champions as soon as possible.
And, if there’s any chance he can pull it off, that will be ahead of the initial two-week timeline Golden State general manager Bob Myers guessed. It’s the playoffs, and the reigning MVP realizes he probably won’t be fully 100 percent when he returns.
“I always have an optimistic view, no matter what it is,” Curry said Friday. “I hope to get back sooner. Having talked to the doctors and athletic training staff, all the experts, that two-week timeline, as Bob said, was an educated guess on cases, other situations on guys that hurt the same thing I did and the kind of recovery time they had. Everybody heals differently, whether it’s before two weeks, after two weeks, right at two weeks, the plan is to stay the same. Every day I’m getting treatment, every day I’m trying to do what I need to do to get back on the floor. When the body says it’s time, then we’ll push that button.”
He’s not ready yet to test the knee by shooting but expected to take that step in the coming days as long as he continues to improve. Curry began riding the stationary bike Thursday.
Curry considers himself very fortunate he didn’t seriously damage the knee structurally when he slipped on a wet spot right before halftime of Sunday’s Game 4 win at Houston. The Warriors eliminated the Rockets in Game 5 on Wednesday night.
An MRI exam Monday revealed a Grade 1 sprain of his MCL. Curry is expected to be sidelined for approximately two weeks, which would be at least the first three games of the second round. The Warriors will host Portland on Sunday afternoon to start the best-of-seven series. The Trail Blazers beat the injury-plagued Clippers in Game 6 on Friday.
“I just feel really blessed to have gotten out of that situation with only an MCL sprain,” Curry said. “That could have been 10 times worse. I had some angels protecting me and keeping me light on my feet so I didn’t put all that jerk and pressure on my knee and something catastrophic happened. That’s why I’ve been real optimistic and just kind of joyful about the situation knowing I’ll be back on the floor and joining my teammates soon.”
Curry the bouncy cheerleader, the hand-signaling coach and animated communicator with the officials, is nearly as entertaining to watch as Curry the superstar who pulls up to shoot from anywhere.
He even picked up Ian Clark — another guard earning more minutes with Curry out — during one fired-up moment. Clark didn’t even know who had him.
“I had no idea until I saw the highlights,” coach Steve Kerr said. “During the game I wasn’t watching any of that. … It’s a good sign, but he hasn’t even been on the floor yet with us since the injury. That’s not like that’s a sign that he’s getting close, it’s just a sign that he’s happy and that he’s feeling well enough to celebrate provocatively.”
Without Curry, the Warriors have had 38 and 30 assists the past two games — generating the ball movement Kerr has called for to keep the offense clicking.
“Steph’s passionate, so what you see out there is genuine,” Curry fill-in Shaun Livingston said. “When he’s celebrating with the guys and he’s coaching some of the guys, he wants to win. He obviously wants to be in a jersey doing it. He plays with passion and he’s a passionate teammate.”
Kerr doesn’t want him doing too much of that — especially no lifting of big men like Marreese Speights or Andrew Bogut.
“I was watching the highlights and I saw him pick up Ian Clark off the floor. ‘What are you doing? I thought you were injured.’ So, hopefully, he’ll have just as much joy but not as much of a display physically of that joy,” Kerr said, then added a thought, “Do not pick up Mo or Bogut.”
Curry knows not to try that again.
“That was an electric kind of moment. That was taking it a little too far. We were having fun,” he said. “I was reminded quickly after I picked him up that that was not a good idea. I have a high basketball IQ, so I picked the right teammate, for sure.”
Just who reminded Curry not to pick anyone up again?