Stephen Curry insisted that he was "fine" after the Warriors lost Game 4 of the Western Conference finals to the Oklahoma City Thunder on Tuesday. Warriors coach Steve Kerr reiterated the same message as well.
"He's not injured." Kerr said about Curry. "He's coming back from the knee, but he's not injured. He just had a lousy night. It happens to even the best players in the world. So, tough night for Steph, and he'll bounce back."
Lousy may be too simple of a word to describe the game Curry had. He was largely ineffective, quite unlike the unanimous MVP that can literally make any shot anywhere on the court that we've grown accustomed to seeing this season. Credit should go the Thunder defense, though. They overwhelmed Curry with their physicality and used the length of Kevin Durant -- and at times Steven Adams -- to contest his shots. But Curry also had six turnovers, missed open layups and two free throws. Quite strange, considering that Curry lead the league in free-throw percentage, draining shots from the charity stripe at 90.8 percent.
Game 4 also was the one month mark of Curry's return from a knee injury that he suffered in the first round. He missed a couple of weeks due to the injury and has played well overall since his return. Yet in Golden State's last two games, Curry wasn't his customary self. According to The Vertical's Adrian Wojnarowski, this is because Curry is still dealing with lingering issues from his knee injury:
Curry has been a shell of himself - missing shots, throwing away passes, losing his dribble, and completely unable to prove that there's Curry-esque agility in that knee. "He's playing at 70 percent, at best," a source close to Curry told The Vertical. Curry refuses to make excuses, but privately the Thunder see something - no explosion, no ability to make the bigs switching onto him pay a price. Twenty points on 19 shots Tuesday night bore no resemblance to the two-time NBA Most Valuable Player.
A 70-percent version of Curry is still better than no Steph at all for the Warriors and at this time in the playoffs, everyone is somewhat banged up. Curry is, of course, still quite capable of bouncing back and can perhaps drop 30-plus or even 40-plus in Game 5. He is just that good.
Curry and the Warriors will need to figure out how to score on OKC's defense if they want to remain alive in the postseason. Otherwise, Golden State will forever be known as the greatest regular-season team in NBA history that failed to win a championship.