The Athletic

What’s next for the struggling Warriors after Steph Curry’s left shoulder injury?

INDIANAPOLIS — About 30 minutes after the Warriors fell 2-13 on the road, Steph Curry sat at his Indianapolis locker with his left arm dangling at his side in an immobile position. The coaching staff wrapped a huge ice pack around the top and back of his injured shoulder. An already precarious situation for the Warriors had hit an even bigger patch of turbulence.

Curry had 38 points on 19 shooting late in the third quarter against the Pacers, expending so much energy that he delayed returning to the locker room at halftime to catch his breath. He had 27 points, but his team was down 20.

Curry was part of a quick comeback in the third quarter. The Warriors started Jonathan Kuminga in place of Kevon Looney, moving to a smaller, faster, more wide-ranging offense that cut the Pacers’ lead from 20 to five in less than six minutes. Curry had 11 in the quarter and 38 for the game when he hit a Jalen Smith drive, grabbing all the ball while inadvertently sending the Warriors this season on another sketchy detour.

Curry immediately felt pain in his left shoulder. He grabbed it, slumped away from the game, tripped over the scorer’s table and eventually onto the bench after the Warriors called time out. After a brief conversation with Drew Yoder, the team’s director of medical services, confirmed the concerning discomfort, Curry headed to the locker room with Rick Celebrini, their primary medical decision maker.

Here is that moment.

In this clip, you can see Curry keeping his left arm still. He always hung like that after the game as Curry walked around the locker room, before and after he iced him. He is due for an MRI on Thursday and plans to travel with the team to Philadelphia. Testing will give them a clearer idea of ​​a possible schedule, but the post-game feeling from those around the squad was that the injury would force some sort of multi-game absence that would likely extend for the rest of the road trip.

“Maybe it’s going to get a little tougher if Steph is out for a while,” Steve Kerr said. “I mean, if he’s out, it’s definitely going to get tougher. But we just have to persevere. You just keep playing and keep fighting.

It wasn’t a dispirited post-game locker room. Other than the additional discomfort and treatment, Curry was in normal spirits. Assuming the tests don’t reveal more damage than originally thought, this could turn out to be just a speed bump. But the 14-15 Warriors already faced a tough challenge before their best player fell. The short term has become much trickier.

So what’s the next step?

This will be an important stretch for Jordan Poole

When Curry went down in March with a sprained foot, Jordan Poole stepped up to an entirely different level. He led the NBA in three games in March and April, averaging 24.7 points on 47.3% overall and 41.9% from deep.

They don’t necessarily need him to reach that zenith, but they will need Poole to be more efficient and protective with the ball than he has been lately. Poole shot 8 of 22 and committed four turnovers against the Pacers. He went 6 of 17 with four turnovers to open the trip to Milwaukee. He’s only had five of his last 23 3 attempts.

“The biggest thing with Jordan that we’ve tried to work on is slowing down,” Kerr said. “He’s just in a hurry. He has so much capacity. I think sometimes it’s the guys with the most ability when they’re young that make the most mistakes because they’re trying to learn what they can and can’t do. He is so gifted, so fast, so sneaky that he often gets himself into trouble.

Are we seeing more of Moses Moody?

Despite missing Andrew Wiggins and Klay Thompson, the Warriors didn’t go to Moses Moody for the first 18 minutes against the Pacers. Kerr had two-way player Ty Jerome ahead of Moody in the initial rotation.

But the Warriors struggled with Jerome, Anthony Lamb and JaMychal Green on the field together. They had a minus-17 in Jerome’s first nine minutes. This prompted Kerr to throw Moody there. He kicked in a corner 3 and snuck in a layup his first minutes on the pitch. Down 20 at halftime, Kerr rearranged his rotation in the third quarter and Moody was the first substitute to come off the bench.

Moody finished with 13 points on 5-of-6 shooting, three assists and several other useful plays from the margins. Moody and Kuminga, who started the second half, were key in keeping the game competitive, almost stealing a late win. Green and Donte DiVincenzo also played big roles.

“I’m really happy with his game,” Kerr said when asked if Moody earned more points. “He has his opportunities and has taken advantage of them. Every game is different. What’s made this year tricky is that you’ve had different guys, different combinations, and a lot of new people. So we try to find the right combinations. But Moses did a great job and I imagine he will be there next game.

Thompson will be back Friday against the Sixers. Wiggins receives a reassessment on Thursday and his return is pending. So it can be hard to find Moody a ton of minutes on the wing, but it’s hard to imagine he hasn’t earned a higher place in the pecking order than Jerome.

So what’s the rotation without curry?

If Wiggins can return soon, it would be a Poole, Thompson, Wiggins, Draymond Green, Looney starting lineup. Kuminga continues to push his way into a bigger slice of the rotational pie, and Kerr showed Wednesday that Kuminga is an option for starters if they decide a faster style and different look is needed.

After Kuminga, DiVincenzo appears to be the most reliable option on the bench. He started in place of Thompson on Wednesday night and had 15 points and eight rebounds, making a pair of 3s essential to keep the Warriors close to the stretch. They were a plus-19 in DiVincenzo’s 38 minutes and a minus-24 in his 10 minutes on the bench.

“My focus is not on the attacking side,” he said. “It comes to me. But when I put pressure on the rim, good things happen. When I can go down, I can get shots from other people, the defense scrambles and the ball can find me. When you play basketball the right way – and that’s the right way, in my opinion, driving, kicking and swinging, all that movement – ​​that’s where guys get good shots.

He has also become one of the quiet leaders in the locker room.

“We needed more energy,” DiVincenzo said. “When things don’t go our way, when the calls don’t go our way, there’s a standard game for the Golden State Warriors. I think the most important message is that we have to play like fearsome warriors. This is the most important thing. We have to have this energy.

What does the calendar look like?

The Warriors, who are 2-13 on the road, end their longest road trip of the season with those four games: at Sixers, Raptors, Knicks, Nets. These last two will be consecutive next week, Tuesday and Wednesday. They then have a long break before starting an eight-game Christmas homestand against the Grizzlies.

(Photo of Steph Curry grabbing his shoulder in the second half Wednesday night against the Pacers: Trevor Ruszkowski/USA Today)

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