Steph's status for Game 1 of playoffs isn't guaranteed


NEW ORLEANS -- The 2021-22 NBA regular-season finale is here, but the Warriors still face two big questions Sunday night: Who will they face in the first round of the playoffs, and will Steph Curry be ready to go? 

The latter, clearly, is more important than the former.

If the Warriors beat the New Orleans Pelicans at Smoothie King Center, they automatically will be the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference and likely will play the Denver Nuggets. But if they lose, they'll need the San Antonio Spurs to beat the Dallas Mavericks or else they'll fall back to the No. 4 seed. In that case, it looks like they would square off with the Utah Jazz. 

Either way, they'll want their two-time NBA MVP on the court. They also don't want to rush Curry back from his sprained left foot, making sure there won't be any risks involved. 

"We'll see how everything goes with Steph next week," Steve Kerr said to reporters prior to tipoff in New Orleans. "There's a chance he could be ready for Game 1, there's a chance he might not. It's literally going to be a day-to-day thing as it all unfolds this week.

"We'll know a lot more after the next few days when he's ramping up his work. There's a chance we could get everybody on the same page and healthy."

All this is out of Kerr's hands. Really, all of it is out of Curry's control too. 

The person to look to in this situation is Rick Celebrini, the Warriors' director of sports medicine and performance. He has been working tirelessly with Curry ever since Steph sustained his injury nearly one month ago on March 16. What he says goes. 

"I have not talked to Rick today, so I'm not exactly sure what Steph has done the last couple of days but this week he will ramp it up for sure," Kerr said. "With a week off in between games, our whole team is going to have to have a really good week of practice. We're going to have to find at least one day in there where we do almost a full scrimmage, full dress rehearsal.

"So, it's really up in the air as far as Steph's participation the rest of the week. We'll see how it goes the next couple of days."

The Warriors will not practice Monday after playing a back-to-back in San Antonio and New Orleans. Curry's next re-evaluation was slated for Monday but don't be surprised if it gets pushed back to Tuesday due to Golden State's travel and practice schedule.

No matter when that news might come, Kerr can't commit one way or another to Curry's availability to begin the playoffs, which will start either Saturday or Sunday for the Warriors. 

"As the week goes on, we'll see where Steph is but I imagine this will go right down to the wire as far as Game 1 is concerned, whether we know his availability or not." 

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What Kerr and the rest of his staff are most focused on in the present is ending the regular season on a high note. They have a solid chance to do so in the Big Easy, finishing with a five-game win streak and 53 wins on the season. 

That far exceeds preseason expectations, especially with how many injuries this team has faced to stars and key players alike. And Kerr believes we still haven't seen the best of this Warriors team.

"I think we haven't reached our potential yet and that's exciting to me," Kerr said. "I think we still have some room for growth and I see teams that can find some magic in the playoffs, and that's what we're going to be shooting for."

Spoiler alert: Curry sure would help the Warriors hit that potential Kerr is aiming for.

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