Stephen Curry returned to the Golden State Warriors lineup for the first time in four months on Thursday after suffering a broken hand.
This time last year the Warriors were the best team in the Western Conference with a record of 44-20. But now, with the departure of Kevin Durant along with the long-term absences of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, the franchise has done a 180. That, added to the in and out nature of Draymond Green in the lineup has Golden State at just 14-49; good for the worst record in the NBA.
Curry scored 23 points in 27 minutes of action in the 121-113 loss to the Toronto Raptors. Despite shooting just 3-12 from three, the two-time MVP said after the game he just tried to stay focused on the task at hand.
“I was trying to be out there and not think about it,” Curry said. “If I needed to make that pass, make it and no hesitation. It was a good feeling, throwing the first one.”
— Golden State Warriors (@warriors) March 6, 2020
In his five played games this season the Davidson product has averaged 20.8 points, 6.6. assists and 5.2 rebounds per contest. Despite the team’s struggles, the return of Steph means the return of optimism in the Bay Area.
“It feels like it’s on again,” Kerr said after the game. “We’re now through the woods, as I said before the game, and we can start looking ahead and using these games to prepare ourselves to try to reach a higher level of play.”
Somewhat lost in the shadow of Curry’s return is the multi-faced importance of the Raptors win for Toronto.
?4-8 From Deep
?13-20 From the Field
? Got the W pic.twitter.com/gimXPrHwQ9
— Chase Graham (@Chase22Graham) March 6, 2020
First and foremost the victory officials locked the Raptors into the postseason field. They became the second team in the NBA to clinch a spot in the playoffs behind the Milwaukee Bucks. While Milwaukee has a commanding nine game lead over Toronto for the top spot in the East; the Raptors are locked in a tight battle with the Boston Celtics for the second seed.
Secondly, it demonstrated their ability to win short handed. Norman Powell exploded for a career-high 37 points while Fred VanVleet and Marc Gasol watched from the sidelines; showing the team has a bevy of scoring options. It also was their second consecutive road win after matching a season-long three game losing streak. Playing away in a stretch of struggles against an amped up crowd for the return of a superstar is difficult, by Kyle Lowry said it was nothing more than they expected.
“Knowing that Steph was coming back, we knew it was going to be a great night, a great atmosphere,” Lowry said after a 26-point, 10-assist night. “One of the best players in the league was coming back from injury, we were a little more focused and concentrated on him, but coming in here, it’s a great regular-season game.”
The Raptors are back in action against the Kings on Sunday, while Golden State hosts the Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday.