After Steph Curry’s shoulder injury, what’s next for the struggling Warriors?

INDIANAPOLIS — About 30 minutes after the Warriors dropped to 2-13 on the road, Steph Curry sat at his Indianapolis locker with his left arm dangling by his side in an immobile position. The training staff wrapped a huge ice pack around the top and back side of his injured shoulder. An already shaky state of affairs for the Warriors had hit an even bigger patch of turbulence.

Curry had 38 points on 19 shots late in the third quarter against the Pacers, expending so much energy that he delayed his return to the locker room at halftime to catch his breath. He had 27 points, but his team was down 20.

Curry was part of a rapid third-quarter comeback. The Warriors started Jonathan Kuminga in Kevon Looney’s place, shifting to a smaller, faster, more spread attack that cut the Pacers lead from 20 to five in under six minutes. Curry had 11 in the quarter and 38 for the game when he reached in on a Jalen Smith drive, grabbing all the ball while inadvertently sending this Warriors season on another sketchy detour.

Curry felt immediate pain in his left shoulder. He grabbed at it, crumpled away from the play, stumbled to the scorer’s table and eventually the bench after the Warriors called timeout. After a brief conversation with Drew Yoder, the team’s director of medical services, confirmed the concerning discomfort, Curry walked to the locker room with Rick Celebrini, their lead medical decision-maker.

Here’s that moment.

In that clip, you can see Curry keeping his left arm stationary. It still hung like that after the game while Curry wandered around the locker room, before and after he iced it. He is scheduled for an MRI on Thursday and plans to travel with the team to Philadelphia. Testing will give them a firmer idea of ​​a possible timeline, but the postgame sense from those around the team was that the injury would force some sort of a multi-game absence that would presumably extend through the rest of the road trip.

“Maybe it’s going to get a little tougher if Steph’s out for a while,” Steve Kerr said. “I mean, if he’s out, it will for sure get tougher. But we just have to persevere. You just keep playing and keep fighting.”

It wasn’t a despondent postgame locker room. Besides the added discomfort and treatment, Curry was in a normal mood. Assuming tests don’t reveal more substantial damage than initially expected, this could prove to be only a speed bump. But the 14-15 Warriors already faced a stiffening challenge before their best player went down. The near term just got a whole lot trickier.

I know what’s next?

This will be an important stretch for Jordan Poole

When Curry went down in March with a foot sprain, Jordan Poole ascended to an entirely different level. He led the NBA in made 3s in March and April, averaging 24.7 points on 47.3 percent overall and 41.9 percent from deep.

They don’t necessarily need him to reach that zenith, but they’ll need Poole to be more efficient and protective with the ball than he’s been lately. Poole went 8-of-22 shooting and committed four turnovers against the Pacers. He went 6-of-17 with four turnovers to open the trip in Milwaukee. He’s made only five of his last 23 attempted 3s.

“The biggest thing with Jordan we’ve been trying to work on is to slow down,” Kerr said. “He just gets in a rush. He has so much ability. I think sometimes it’s the guys with the most ability when they’re young who make the most mistakes because they’re trying to learn what they can and can’t do. He’s so gifted, so fast, so shifty that he’s frequently getting himself in trouble.”

Do we see more of Moses Moody?

Despite the absence of Andrew Wiggins and Klay Thompson, the Warriors did not go to Moses Moody for the first 18 minutes against the Pacers. Kerr had two-way player Ty Jerome ahead of Moody in the initial rotation.

But the Warriors struggled with Jerome, Anthony Lamb and JaMychal Green on the court together. They were a minus-17 in Jerome’s first nine minutes. That pushed Kerr to throw Moody out there. He hit a corner 3 and snuck in a layup his first few minutes on the court. Down 20 at halftime, Kerr rearranged his third-quarter rotation and Moody was the first sub off the bench.

Moody finished with 13 points on 5-of-6 shooting, three assists and several other helpful plays within the margins. Both Moody and Kuminga, who started the second half, were key in maintaining the game’s competitiveness, nearly stealing away a late win. Green and Donte DiVincenzo also played big roles.

“I’m really pleased with his play,” Kerr said when asked if Moody had earned more runs. “He got his opportunities and made the most of them. Every game is different. What’s made this year tricky is you’ve had different guys out, different combinations and a lot of new people. So we’re trying to find the right combinations. But Moses has done a great job and I imagine he’ll be out there next game.”

Thompson will be back Friday against the Sixers. Wiggins is getting a re-evaluation Thursday and his return is pending. So it may be difficult to find Moody a ton of minutes on the wing, but it’s hard to imagine he hasn’t earned a higher place in the pecking order than Jerome.

So what’s the non-Curry rotation?

If Wiggins can return soon, it’d be a Poole, Thompson, Wiggins, Draymond Green, Looney starting lineup. Kuminga continues to force his way into a bigger piece of the rotation pie, and Kerr showed Wednesday that Kuminga is an option for the starters if they decide a faster style and different look is needed.

After Kuminga, DiVincenzo is emerging as the most reliable option off the bench. He started in Thompson’s place Wednesday night and had 15 points and eight rebounds, making a pair of essential 3s to keep the Warriors close down the stretch. They were a plus-19 in DiVincenzo’s 38 minutes and a minus-24 in his 10 minutes on the bench.

“My focus isn’t on the offensive end,” he said. “It comes to me. But when I put pressure on the rim, good things happen. When I can get downhill, I can get other people shots, the defense is scrambling and the ball can find me again. When you’re playing basketball the right way — and that’s the right way, in my opinion, drive, kick and swing, all that movement — that’s when guys get good shots.”

He has also become one of the quiet leaders in the locker room.

“We needed more energy,” DiVincenzo said. “When things aren’t going our way, when calls aren’t going our way, there’s a standard playing for the Golden State Warriors. I think the biggest message is that we have to play like freaking Warriors. That’s the biggest thing. We have to have that energy.”

How does the schedule look?

The Warriors, who are 2-13 on the road, finish this longest trip of the season with these four games: at Sixers, Raptors, Knicks, Nets. Those final two are on a back-to-back next week, Tuesday and Wednesday. They then have an extended break before beginning an eight-game homestand on Christmas against the Grizzlies.

(Photo of Steph Curry grabbing his shoulder in the second half Wednesday night against the Pacers: Trevor Ruszkowski / USA Today)


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