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The Warriors Were Healthy Just Long Enough To Get Their Hopes Up

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA - MARCH 16: Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden State Warriors competes for a loose ball against Grant Williams #12 of the Boston Celtics in the first quarter at Chase Center on March 16, 2022 in San Francisco, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)
Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

The Golden State Warriors had made something of a fetish listing the number of days since last we saw Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green on the floor together, a reminder of the grand old days and the reason why they’ve been, well, old. The number was 1,005 days, and when that streak finally ended Monday night in a routine 126-112 cover over the Washington Wizards, well, it was drunken renditions of “Happy Days Are Here Again” all around. Curry scored 47—41 in 15 minutes when on the floor with Green, Thompson scored 20,  a game after heaving in 38 against Milwaukee, and it was 2015 all over again.

Two days later, their streak of days without a workplace accident is over, and for an as-yet-undetermined amount of time. Curry was laid out in a late second quarter collision with the noted converter of human 7-10 splits Marcus Smart, left the game with an injured foot and did not return. The Boston Celtics, this season’s latest BTIB—best team in basketball—handled the Warriors with considerable ease on either side of the injury and finished to the good, 110-88.

Because they are the Warriors and ever attached to their aging but still substantial core, they struggled to determine whether Smart’s play was unfortunate, dirty or any point in between.

“I thought it was a dangerous play,” head coach Steve Kerr said after the game (obviously). “I thought Marcus dove into Steph, and that’s what I was upset about. A lot of respect for Marcus. He’s a hell of a player, a gamer, a competitor. I coached him in the World Cup a few summers ago. We talked after the game and we’re good. But I thought it was a dangerous play.”

Green, on the other hand, split the hair a bit more finely.

“I’d expect Marcus Smart to make that play; he plays hard,” Green said. “I can’t call that a dirty play. As unfortunate as it is … maybe unnecessary, but that’s the most I can call it, unnecessary. But I can’t call it a dirty play. The ball is on the floor. At every level of basketball we are taught to dive on the floor and go after the ball. That’s what Marcus did. So I can’t call it a dirty play. I will say it was probably an unnecessary dive.”

As for Smart, he decided after a moment’s consideration that it was neither dirty nor gratuitous but landed in a third category, the omnibus exculpatory position of “what I do.”

“I saw the ball, I dove for the ball, trying to make a play,” he said, claiming not to have seen Curry, which replays suggest is a plausible explanation. “Unfortunately that occurred … I’m sure I’m going to get called dirty. But I know who I am. I play very hard and I leave everything on the court. My teammates, my colleagues, they know I’m not a dirty player.”

It may not be relevant, but Smart finished the possession in question by committing a flagrant foul on Klay Thompson, thus superficially undercutting his argument a bit. Either way, Curry is now up on blocks for the foreseeable future, which could arrive as soon as Sunday against San Antonio, and the dream rotation of is again incomplete. No pity should be exhibited here; it is in the nature of 30-pluses to be absent with leave, and the only Warrior to have played in each of their games is Kevon Looney, who has enough surgical scars to be considered best in show at a quilt fair. But it is safe to conclude that the fellows will be a bit testy until they get updates on Curry’s condition. As a hint of that, Green got T’d up by Karl Lane barely two minutes after Curry’s injury. 

The Three Basketeers were on the floor barely five minutes Wednesday and barely 10 against Washington the other night, so nobody is much feeling the happy-happy-joy-joy of the reunion right now, so soon after it had begun. It’s too early to say that they will have to finish the way they started—incomplete—but there is a particularly malevolent god collecting on some bets this morning, and if nothing else, we admire his creativity.