SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Stephen Curry will play but not start for Golden State in Game 1 of the playoffs against the Denver Nuggets on Saturday night.
“It was pretty clear. He felt good,” coach Steve Kerr said before the game. “The only question was how he would feel the next day and he felt good yesterday. Yesterday was a pretty light day and we felt really good yesterday as we talked about it and today he is ready to go.
Jordan Poole was in the starting lineup for his playoff debut.
Curry returns to the Warriors exactly one month after spraining a ligament in his left foot against Boston. The two-time MVP scrambled on Thursday – playing three six-minute stretches – in a key step for him to be cleared for Game 1 of the best-of-seven series.
Curry said after training on Thursday the foot was still sore four weeks later and he also suffered a bone bruise that kept him in a walking boot for almost three weeks. He sprinted out of the tunnel for pre-match warm-ups in his usual fashion, with a high jump bringing both legs into the air.
The Nuggets want Curry to work at both ends of the court, Denver coach Michael Malone said.
“It’s no surprise he’s playing. We prepared all week like he was going to play,” Malone said. “…We have to find a way to get Steph Curry to play at both ends of the court because if he’s just allowed to play attacking he’s a three-time world champion, two-time MVP. We have all seen what he is capable of.
Curry, 34, was injured March 16 at home against the Celtics and Golden State went 6-6 without him, though the Warriors found their groove and won the final five games of the regular season.
Curry is confident he can help the Warriors win even if he’s not quite complete. His rehabilitation mantra has been: “positive and patient”. His conditioning gives him confidence that he won’t be sluggish or out of breath after a few minutes.
“Everything has been positive in terms of getting back on the pitch and understanding that I will be ready to play anytime, hopefully it will be Saturday,” he said before the game.
Against Boston, Curry was injured with 4:19 left in the second quarter as he searched for a loose ball. Marcus Smart did a diving lunge on the play and landed on his leg. Curry winced in pain and got to his feet but limped off before coming out on the next dead ball moments later. Kerr called it a “dangerous” game.
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