Missing time not a plus for Stephen Curry as he works back to full strength against the New Orleans Pelicans

OAKLAND — Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry is going through his second-most-injured season since he came into the NBA. Including the playoffs, he’s missed 37 of 91 games.

“It takes a little bit out of you,” Curry said before Tuesday’s Game 5 of the Western Conference Semifinals. “You come back having fresh legs, per se, but there’s a little give-and-take there, not playing.”

Curry hasn’t missed this many games since the 2011-12 season, when he missed 56 due to five ankle sprains the season after having surgery to repair ligaments in his right ankle. Since then, he’s not missed more than eight in any given season, including the playoffs. As he readies for his fourth game back from a left MCL sprain, the five weeks of time off may have done more harm than good, as far as Curry is concerned.

You’re able to play 78 games or whatever is, and keep up a constant rhythm, keep a constant routine,” Curry said at shootaround on Tuesday morning. “You just go through those games with the type of force you expect to, that carries itself over, every game.”

Over the last five years, Curry has averaged 78.8 games, and during the last three seasons — during which the Warriors reached the NBA finals — he never played fewer than 79 regular-season games.

Curry missed 16 games between the end of the 2017-18 season and the entire first-round series against the San Antonio Spurs, plus Game 1 against the Pelicans. After scoring 28 in an adrenaline-fueled 27 minutes his first game back in Game 2, he came back to earth.

A career 47% shooter, in Game 3 Curry scored 19 points on 6-of-19 from the floor. In Game 4, he got a tick better, scoring 23 points, while shooting 8-of-17 from the floor and scoring nine of his points in the fourth quarter.

“The whole rehab process, any time you get injured, it’s hard to simulate live action, playoff-intensity action,” Curry said. “Every game that you get out there, you get a little bit back, knock a few of the cobwebs off, and build up your endurance.”

As Curry gets his wind back, the one thing that hasn’t left has been his mental approach.

“In my mind, when I’m out there, I’m playing as if, and I have the mindset as if I’m all the way back,” Curry said. “My body, obviously, isn’t 100 percent, but for the most part, as long as my mind’s telling me I can keep going, I can do what I want to do on the floor and not think about my knee and that stuff, that’s a win for me.”

While the Warriors used their Death Lineup of Curry, Draymond Green, Andre Iguodala, Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson — which Steve Kerr will start for the second time ever tonight at Oracle Arena — to blast the Pelicans in New Orleans, Curry hasn’t yet looked like the Steph Curry who’s averaged 26.1 points per game in his postseason career.

“Hopefully tonight is a step in the right direction,” he said.

If the Warriors can drop New Orleans tonight, they’ll likely meet the Houston Rockets (who play the Toronto Raptors today at 5 p.m., and lead their Western Conference Semifinal series three games to one) on Monday.

“I just let the natural process of integrating myself back into the game take place,” Curry said. “As long as we keep having games, I’ll keep getting better.”

Golden State tips off at 7:30 p.m. on TNT and on the radio on 95.7 FM.

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