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Can the Warriors Survive Without Steph?

The Golden State Warriors are going to be without their leading scorer for the next two weeks after Steph Curry suffered a Grade 1 MCL sprain. The MVP’s knee seemed to give out against the Houston Rockets in Game 4 against Houston when Curry slipped on a wet spot on the floor.

The Warriors have only played 298 minutes, or roughly six games, without Curry this season. It’s a small sample size, but the team still averaged 107 points in those games which would be fourth-best in the NBA.

Without Steph, the team still averaged 9.5 made threes per game. That would be good for eighth in the league. So the team won’t miss much on the offensive end, but that doesn’t mean the next guy up doesn’t have to step up.

The Warriors should have no problems finishing off the Rockets in Round 1 of the Western Conference Playoffs. But, how do they stack up in the next round against Portland or the LA Clippers? Who has to step up for the Warriors to continue to advance?

The Warriors backup point guard is the first guy who has to step up and that is Shaun Livingston. Livingston averaged about 20 minutes and six points a game. He will be expected to play about 30 minutes in Curry’s absence. He doesn’t necessarily need to put 15 to 20 points, but that would help. Livingston just needs to take care of the ball and play solid defense, which he has done all season.

Another guy who will need to step up his Harrison Barnes. Barnes averaged 12 points a game on the season but only about eight in the playoffs. He has the capability of putting up 20 on any night with athletic ability inside and his long range jumpers. Barnes must step up if the Warriors want to repeat as Champions.

Of course Klay Thompson and Draymond Green will step up. Both have been averaging double digits with Thompson being the leading scorer for the Warriors. Thompson will get more shot attempts and he is a career 42 percent shooter from behind the arc. Klay will also have to be a ball handler more and protect the rock, something he hasn’t done very well this season.

This will give Draymond the opportunity to get more touches in the paint while still being a facilitator. With Curry out of the lineup, Green averages almost twice as many post-ups. He will be huge going forward for the Warriors success on offense and defense. Green had 13 triple-doubles this season, so no one would be surprised to see him grab a couple more with Steph out.

Golden State won’t have a problem finishing off the Rockets in Game 5 or 6. But in the next round they will face either the Portland Trailblazers or the Los Angeles Clippers. The Blazers beat the Warriors in February, the first game back from the All-Star break. In the game Lillard put up 51 points and the Blazers won by 32.

The Clippers didn’t beat the Warriors this season. However, they played the Warriors in three of the four meetings. But, the Clippers are without All-Stars Chris Paul and Blake Griffin.

Neither team should worry Warriors fans, but they would rather play a beat up Clippers team than Portland. Lillard is carrying the team and has a chip on his shoulder after everyone counted them out while losing four starters from last year’s team.

But, the Warriors will need to get Steph back to compete with Spurs or Oklahoma City Thunder in the Western Conference Finals. If he can’t get back healthy, the Warriors won’t make it. And, then, that NBA record of 73 wins loses its luster.

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