The Golden State Warriors will look to close out their first round series against the Houston Rockets with a victory at home on Wednesday. The defending NBA champions, though, will have to find a way past the Rockets without their superstar Stephen Curry, who has been ruled out for at least two weeks with a knee sprain.
Curry was diagnosed with a Grade 1 right knee sprain of the MCL, and while the time on the sidelines has been given as two weeks, it could possibly go a little longer, depending on the speed of the healing.
Either way, the All-Star will not be a part of this first round series and, most probably the second round, as well, assuming the Warriors see off the Rockets. "From our perspective, it's relatively good news," general manager Bob Myers was quoted as saying by ESPN. "Clearly we don't want to be here getting MRIs at this point of the season, especially someone of Steph's stature. ... But mechanically the knee is intact, so that's good."
Now, it will be up to the likes of Draymond Green, Klay Thompson and Andre Igoudala to pick up the slack and make sure the Warriors finish the series off in Game 5 at the Oracle Arena. Going by the manner in which the players responded to Curry's injury, it shouldn't be that difficult.
From a level game, when Curry suffered the injury on the final play before halftime, the Warriors caught fire in the third quarter, outscoring the Rockets 41-20 to eventually run away with the game 121-94. A similar performance on Wednesday, and Golden State will be in the second round of the NBA playoffs.
"When you have a team that is as together as ours is and cares about each other like ours does, you tend to pick up the fight a little bit," Steve Kerr, who was named the coach of the year, said. "Our guys sensed that we needed to come together."
Houston will be kicking themselves at throwing away an advantage by putting on such a bad show in the third quarter of Game 4. The key for the Rockets will be to ensure this game does not turn into a three-point shooting contest, because, if that happens, only one team will come up trumps.
"You see the 3s going, you see the 3s going and then in your mind it's, 'Oh we need to get some 3s to stay in the game,' and then the ball doesn't get back to the post where it needs to," Houston Rockets coach J.B. Bickerstaff said. "We need to make sure it's more of a focus for us and that we understand that in those moments to settle us down and to make them have to defend we need to get the ball to the guys in the post."
Where to Watch Live
The NBA Playoffs first round Game 4 is scheduled for an 8 a.m. IST (3.30 a.m. BST, 10.30 p.m. ET) start. Live TV coverage of the game in India will be on Sony Six and Sony Six HD. The live streaming option for Golden State Warriors vs Houston Rockets is on Sonyliv.
Audience in the US can watch the game live on TNT, with the live stream option on TNT Overtime. BT Sport will provide live coverage of the NBA game in the UK, while the game can also be live streamed on Watch BT Sport.
Viewers from across the world can watch Game 5 live on NBA.com.