Now That Steph Curry Is Back, Can the Warriors Beat the Bucks?

December 6, 2018 | insideinjuries | No Comments

The Warriors and Bucks face-off Friday in Milwaukee for a West v. East matchup that could possibly turn into an NBA finals preview. Golden State is currently sitting at No. 4 in the West while the Bucks have taken over the No. 2 spot in the East, with only the Raptors ahead of them. Both conference still have some shaking out to do until the playoffs start in April, it is becoming clear that both the Warriors and the Bucks will be involved in the post-season.

While speculating on who will be in the playoffs is always fun, winning games in the regular season is the only way to guarantee a spot. So who will take home the W on Friday in Milwaukee? The matchup is relatively even, especially when you take injuries into consideration.

The Warriors got a big boost last Saturday when Steph Curry returned after missing 11 games with a left groin strain. Though we thought he returned a bit early, Curry is now about to reach his 5 week Optimal Recovery Time. The concern with Curry now isn’t even his groin injury. It’s his ankle, or his entire lower body in general. He suffered multiple sprain to his left ankle last season and also missed a chunk of the post-season recovering from a Grade 2 MCL sprain. This high number of lower body injuries in the past year have left Curry at a High Injury Risk, something that could come into play in a close matchup on Friday.

While the Warriors gained a major asset last weekend, they also lost their starting center, Damian Jones, to a torn left pectoral muscle. That leaves Jordan Bell, Kevon Looney, and Jonas Jerebko vying for minutes as the big man. They’ve had almost a week to figure things out, but losing a starter still requires adjustment, even for the Warriors. Jones’ season is likely over. The good news is DeMarcus Cousins is ramping up his workouts and is scheduled to participate in all practices from here on out. The Warriors are expecting him back around Christams.

The other starter who will be out of the lineup on Friday is Draymond Green. He’s missed 13 of the past 15 games with a right toe sprain, but is expected to return to action early next week. When both Green and Curry were out, it was obvious the Warriors were struggling. With Curry back in the mix and Kevin Durant currently healthy, Green’s absence doesn’t carry as much weight.

The Bucks will only be missing John Henson who underwent surgery to repair a torn ligament in his left wrist in mid-November. He’s expected to be out at least three months, but a return for the post-season is more realistic according to the Inside Injuries algorithm. Ersan Ilyasova suffered a concussion last week, but is expected to clear the protocol in time for Friday’s game. He will have to be cleared by an independent neurologist before he can play. Though he should fine to play, it’s worth noting that Ilyasova will be playing at an increased Injury Risk as he continues to recover from the head injury.

Giannis Antetokounmpo, one of the most exciting young players in the NBA, has continued to show his star-power in Milwaukee this season. He’s remained healthy this season, with only a concussion in October worth mentioning. The Greek Freak suffered multiple ankle and knee injuries last season, which make him an Elevated Injury Risk, but his Peak Health Performance Factor indicates he should be at the top of his game right now.  

Even with injuries, it’s hard to deny the Warrior’s dominance in the NBA. But with Curry still on the mend and two of the starting five out with injuries, the Bucks could very easily take over. Milwaukee is a healthier team right now, and the Warriors still haven’t been able to find their groove yet this season. While we think it will definitely be a close game, Milwaukee will have the injury advantage on Friday.