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BOSTON: Even as he lay on the court, with 240-pound Celtics center Al Horford over his recently recovered left ankle, Stephen Curry knew what was wrong.
And as soon as he got up and took a few steps, he knew he was going to be fine.
“I’m going to play. That’s all I know for now,” the Warriors star said Thursday, a day before Golden State took on Boston in Game 4 of the NBA Finals.
“I know exactly what it is,” said Curry, who injured the same ankle in a similar play in a season-ending game against Boston. “I guess (there’s) some comfort knowing that I’ve been through it before, but you’d also rather not have to deal with something like that at this point in the season.”
Curry found himself at the bottom of a pile Wednesday night as players from both teams dove for a loose ball late in the fourth quarter. Teammate Draymond Green said he heard Curry scream in pain, but the Warriors star stayed in the game until coach Steve Kerr sent the bench behind 14 with two minutes left.
The Celtics held on to win 116-100 and take a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series. Golden State needs a win on Friday night to avoid falling behind 3-1 before the series returns to San Francisco.
A key for them to avoid the edge of elimination: Curry not only by staying healthy, but by playing as a two-time NBA MVP. The Warriors guard scored 31 points in Game 3, but only two of them came in the fourth quarter as the league-leading Celtics defense chased him down the field.
Golden State held a movie night on Thursday, but the team regulars didn’t practice. Curry appeared to be walking without a limp as he entered the media room to speak to reporters, and he ascended the podium steps three at a time. He had no leg bandages or splints.
Curry said he slept a lot – 10.5 hours – and spent time with his foot in an ice bucket. But he said he didn’t need an MRI because the injury was the same one he suffered when Celtics guard Marcus Smart landed on his foot during a March 16 game in San Francisco.
“This one just wasn’t as bad as that one,” said Curry, who missed the final 12 games of the regular season. “As soon as you start taking a few steps, you kind of know if you can run normally, cut normally or not. At the time, I couldn’t. Yesterday I could. It gave me some confidence knowing it wasn’t as bad.
When asked Thursday if he would be out if it was a regular season game, Curry said he couldn’t say for sure.
But for Game 4 of the NBA Finals, there’s no doubt about it.
“I know I’m going to play,” he said.
The Celtics listed center Robert Williams III as questionable on Thursday with the left knee injury that required season-ending surgery and sidelined him for seven of the team’s first 14 playoff games.
Boston coach Ime Udoka said forward Jayson Tatum was dealing with a right shoulder sting.
“It will pop every time it gets hit the wrong way,” Udoka said. “(He) had to shoot a few free throws afterwards, he might be a little numb there. He shoots a three right after, so I’m not sure that hinders his ability to finish.
Golden State has beaten Boston in the third quarter of all three games so far, so a reporter asked Kerr why they couldn’t start the game the same way.
“I ask myself this question very often,” he said, “and I don’t have an answer.”
The Warriors outscored the Celtics by a combined score of 106-63 in the Finals. Golden State had a 33-25 advantage Wednesday night, overcoming a 12-point halftime deficit and briefly taking the lead.
Kerr joked that he had a book of “incredibly inspirational quotes” to draw on.
“I’m just trying to pull off the good one,” he said. “And if I motivate them and they’re excited, then they seem to play better.”
Third-quarter struggles are a recurring problem for the Celtics, who experienced similar lapses against Miami and Milwaukee.
“It’s just one of those things where it’s a mystery,” Smart said. “We definitely try not to maintain that pattern.”
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