Every day in the NBA there is a lot to unpack, so every weekday morning throughout the season we will give you the three things you need to know from the last 24 hours in the NBA. Here is what you missed while cooking your own meal at Waffle House.
1) Stephen Curry sprains his ankle and it looks nasty. He’s going to miss a little time. Often when there are less than two minutes left in a Warriors game Stephen Curry is resting comfortably on the bench, a towel draped over his head, watching guys who just pulled off their sweats five minutes ago close out another blowout Warriors win. But with the Warriors down 20 at the half to the Pelicans, Golden State mounted a comeback (more on that below) the Warriors stars were in the game late and bad things happened.
Curry lunged for a steal, stepped on the foot of E'Twaun Moore, rolled his ankle and it was not pretty.
After the game X-rays were negative but his ankle was very swollen and Curry was diagnosed with a sprain. An MRI comes on Tuesday, at which point there will be some kind of timeline for his return. However, you can be sure Curry is out Wednesday in his hometown of Charlotte, and very possibly for the two games left on the Warriors road trip after that.
Golden State has the talent to survive without an injured Curry and still win most, if not all, of its games. However, the team will need to be a lot more focused than the way it has coasted through most of the last few weeks, and frankly most of the season.
2) For the second time this season, the Warriors were down 20+ points at halftime and came back to win. But this time it had a price. It’s one bit of NBA history that Steve Kerr would rather not have his team associated with: For the second time this season, the Golden State Warriors were down at least 20 points at the half and came back to win — the first team in the NBA to do that twice in one season.
It speaks to how the Warriors have played all season long — they make playground passes that don’t connect, they take bad shots (even for them and their shooters), they coast on defense and hope that their talent gets them through. In games where it doesn’t, they flip the switch for a stretch — five minutes, a quarter, a half at tops — and overwhelm teams.
In the first half Monday night, against a pretty good and (as of now) playoff-bound Pelicans team, the Warriors had a first half offensive rating of 87.3 (points scored per 100 possessions) and a defensive rating of 130.6 — that’s -43.3 net rating in a half. Second half it was a ridiculous true shooting percentage of 74.9, a 136.4 offensive rating, an 84 defensive rating for a net rating of 52.4. The Warriors cared, got 31 points from Curry, 22 from Klay Thompson, 19 each from Kevin Durant and Draymond Green and that was enough to get the win. (Jrue Holiday had 34 for the Pelicans, who were without Anthony Davis.)
Don’t expect the Warriors to turn it on and care, outside of some specific games, until the playoffs. The question is can Steve Kerr get them to build good habits through the course of this season anyway?
3) Giannis Antetokounmpo is amazing, drops 40 on Boston, but that’s not enough to beat Celtics. Two things we thought coming into this game felt confirmed by the night.
First, Giannis Antetokounmpo is an elite NBA player, a top 10 guy (maybe top five). Going against the best defense in the NBA this season, he dropped 40.
Boston, however, is the better team. Kyrie Irving put up 32 points, Al Horford had 20 (and shows some real chemistry with Marcus Smart), and rookie Jayson Tatum had 17. Boston defended well, played as a team, and was in control of this game pretty much the whole way, exploiting the shaky defense in Milwaukee that could lead to Jason Kidd’s seat getting warm. Boston is talented and relentless with their execution, and that was too much for the Bucks.