Curry returns, to come off bench in Warriors' playoff opener

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Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry warms up before Game 1 of the team's NBA basketball first-round playoff series against the Denver Nuggets in San Francisco, Saturday, April 16, 2022. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

SAN FRANCISCO – Stephen Curry will play but not start for Golden State in Game 1 of the playoffs against the Denver Nuggets on Saturday night.

“It was pretty clear. He felt good," coach Steve Kerr said before the game. "The only question was how he would feel the next day and he felt good yesterday. Yesterday was a pretty light day and we felt really good about yesterday as we talked about it and today he is good to go.”

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Jordan Poole was in the starting lineup for his playoff debut.

Curry is back for the Warriors exactly one month after he sprained a ligament in his left foot against Boston. The two-time MVP scrimmaged Thursday — playing three six-minute stretches — in a key step to him being cleared for the opener in the best-of-seven series.

Curry said after Thursday's practice the foot is still tender four weeks later and he also dealt with a bone bruise that had him in a walking boot for nearly three weeks. He sprinted out of the tunnel for pregame warmups in his normal fashion, featuring a high leap bringing both legs into the air.

The Nuggets want to make Curry work on both ends of the floor, Denver coach Michael Malone said.

“It's no surprise that he’s playing. We’ve prepared all week as if he would play,” Malone said. "... We have to find a way to make Steph Curry play on both ends of the floor because if he’s just allowed to play offense, he’s a three-time world champion, two-time MVP. We’ve all seen what he’s capable of.”

The 34-year-old Curry was injured March 16 at home against the Celtics and Golden State went 6-6 without him, though the Warriors found their rhythm and won the final five regular-season games.

Curry is confident he can help the Warriors win even if he’s not quite at full strength. His rehab mantra has been: “positive and patient.” His conditioning gives him the trust that he won’t be a step slow or winded after a few minutes.

“Everything’s just been positive in terms of getting back out there and understanding I’ll be ready to play whenever that time is, I’m hoping it’s Saturday," he said leading up to the game.

Against Boston, Curry was injured with 4:19 remaining in the second quarter while scrambling for a loose ball. Marcus Smart made a diving lunge on the play and landed on his leg. Curry grimaced in pain and got up but hobbled along before exiting on the next dead ball moments later. Kerr called it a “dangerous” play.


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