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January 22, 2023

BOSTON — The Golden State Warriors had a lot to digest after their 116-100 loss to the Celtics on Wednesday night in Game 3 of the NBA Finals. But at the top of their minds after falling 2-1 in the series was the status of their superstar, Stephen Curry.

With 4:16 left in the game and the Warriors trailing by 12, Curry dove to the floor in an attempt to secure a loose ball. He was met by Boston’s Al Horford, and as the two struggled to secure possession, Horford rolled over Curry’s left leg.

Curry remained on the ground for a few minutes, writhing in pain.

“I saw him dive,” Warriors forward Draymond Green said. “So I picked up my fault by pushing people away because he’s screaming at the bottom of the pile.”

Curry came in with a noticeable limp.

“Obviously I’m in pain, but it’ll be okay,” Curry said. “We’ll see how he reacts. Not much else to say. I don’t feel like I’m missing a game. Use the next 48 hours to prepare.”

As Curry walked in and out of the press conference room after the game, he walked cautiously, trying to avoid putting any real pressure on his left foot.

Curry said the injury was close to the one he suffered against the visiting Celtics in March, when he sprained his foot in a similar play involving Marcus Smart. That play led to Curry straining his left foot — the same foot affected in Game 3 — and missing the final month of the regular season. Wednesday’s injury, Curry said, was less serious.

“[Horford is] a big body, obviously,” Curry said. I didn’t see the play so I don’t know if it could have been avoided or not. I was in this situation with Marcus in the bay, and you just want to get your foot out of there. That’s all I was trying to do at the time, knowing what position I was in. Like I said, for what I feel, it’s not that bad. So hopefully he responds well over the next two days.”

“We’ll know more tomorrow,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said sternly.

Losing Curry for even a single game would be detrimental to the Warriors’ title hopes. Even a stoned Curry wouldn’t bode well for Golden State.

Through the first three games, Curry was the Warriors’ best player and only source of consistency. In Game 3, he scored 31 points on 12 of 22 shooting, including six 3-pointers. He eventually got help from Splash Brother Klay Thompson, who finished with 25 points, but that was in exchange for a largely absent Green.

Green scored just two points and had no impact on the defense. He didn’t deliver the level of focus or intensity he provided the Warriors earlier in this series. And he fouled when he came to the aid of Curry in the late scrum.

“I was s—,” Green said, his son at his side as he answered questions from the media. Later, he called himself “sweet”.

Green’s performance didn’t stop Celtics fans from raining down “F — you, Draymond” chants steadily throughout the night.

“We’ve played in front of rude people before,” Thompson said. “Dropping F-bombs with kids in the crowd. Really classy. Good job, Boston.”

Golden State guard Jordan Poole contributed 10 points on 4-of-8 shooting but continued to struggle to find a meaningful way to impact his team.

Boston made Curry work for every shot he took, choking him on defense all night. The Celtics forced Curry to attempt just two plays in transition after averaging five such plays per game in the first two games.

They also forced Curry out of the paint, as he only fired three field goal attempts from within 9 feet of the basket. (He combined for 12 of those attempts in Games 1 and 2.)

“Their personnel and the way they defend, they’re very physical,” Curry said. “They have a way of, obviously with Marcus on the ball, he’s quite aggressive, and Robert [Williams III] behind the game they usually have a lot of length and size on the wings.”

Because he couldn’t drive to the rim and make contact, Curry only attempted one free throw – a flagrant foul 1 penalty shot in the third quarter after it was ruled that Horford didn’t hadn’t given Curry enough space to land on his made 3-pointer. shot.

“I don’t know why there’s only one free throw,” Curry said. “I felt like there were a few possessions or plays that could have followed me.”

The last time Curry had just one free throw attempt in a playoff game was in 2018.

“It’s hard to understand the flow of the game based on some of the calls that have gone my way where I have four and you have to defend in a certain way because you want to stay on the pitch and not allow that it impacts the game,” Curry said. “But you know, you always have to find a way to be effective no matter what the game is called, and that’s a good lesson to learn for the next game. .”

The Warriors’ loss was not due to the free throw disparity. (Boston shot 24-15 for Golden State.) But that had to come down to the level of physicality the Celtics played with.

Boston outshot Golden State 47-31, including 15-6 on the offensive boards. The Celtics also outshot the Warriors in the paint 52-26.

“That was really the main issue – defense at the point of attack,” Kerr said. “They passed us. It wasn’t based on the sets they were running. It was more fair that they were going down to us, and they passed us, and that hurt us.”

The Warriors trailed up to 18 points in the first half. But just like they have every game in this series, they played a terrific third quarter, even taking the lead shortly after a seven-point possession late in the period. But they weren’t able to hold it in fourth, which led to the Celtics wrapping up the game.

The Warriors know they need to find a way to play more consistently throughout the 48 minutes. They know they need to bring the strength they found in the Game 2 win. They know they need to get more dues through the rotation.

But they all know none of that will really matter if Curry isn’t available.

“We need him if we’re going to win this thing,” Thompson said. “I know Steph is going to do everything he can to play. I really hope he is okay because he is our identity, and without him it will be very difficult.”

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