Curry slated to return when Warriors host Hawks
OAKLAND, Calif. -- The Golden State Warriors will have an old look but a new goal when they resurface from a three-day break to host the Atlanta Hawks on Friday night.
The Warriors are expecting All-Star point guard Stephen Curry to return from his six-game absence because of a sprained right ankle when they open a four-game homestand against a Hawks team that will be playing the second night of a road back-to-back.
The Hawks (21-51), who are in the running for the worst record in the NBA, stunned Utah 99-94 in Salt Lake City on Tuesday night before falling back on their hard times, stumbling at Sacramento 105-90 on Thursday.
The Warriors (53-18) needed all hands on deck to outlast a pesky Hawks squad 114-109 on the road earlier this month. Curry and Kevin Durant scored 28 points apiece in the win.
While the Hawks might see Curry again in the rematch, they definitely won't see Durant, who suffered a rib-cartilage injury last week.
Golden State also will be without Curry's backcourt sidekick, Klay Thompson, who is rehabbing a fractured right thumb, and a third All-Star, Draymond Green, who suffered a pelvic contusion in the Warriors' loss Monday at San Antonio.
The Warriors have lost two of three with Curry, Thompson and Durant all sidelined, and went only 2-4 with Curry out. The rough patch has knocked them out of contention for the top spot in the Western Conference, which belongs to Houston (57-14).
So while they battle Toronto (53-19) for the second-best record in the league, the Warriors seem most concerned about getting healthy and securing the No. 2 spot in the West.
Their magic number for clinching that spot is three. Any combination of three wins and three Portland losses would guarantee Golden State no worse than the West's No. 2 seed.
"We are in a good position, big picture, no matter what happens, because our injuries are all relatively minor," Warriors coach Steve Kerr noted. "We are very hopeful and confident that we will have everybody back when it counts."
Given how this season has gone, the Warriors could very well lock up the No. 2 seed by the end of next week. They'll face three Eastern teams on the homestand, including Indiana and Milwaukee.
The Warriors have gone 23-3 against Eastern competition this season, including 10-2 at home.
A Curry return would mean an intriguing matchup with Hawks standout Dennis Schroder, whose career-best 41 points were the key to Tuesday's shocker at Utah.
Afterward, Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer applauded his point guard's defense, too.
"He was special tonight," Budenholzer gushed. "He asked for the switch onto (Jazz rookie hotshot Donovan) Mitchell and I think he did a great job there. He locked in on Donovan Mitchell the last three or four minutes of the game."
Known more as a defensive specialist in years past, Schroder, who was given the night off at Sacramento to rest, is averaging 19.5 points per game, and needs to average 23.5 the rest of the way to reach 20.0.
He had 27 points in the earlier loss to Golden State, two fewer than teammate Kent Bazemore, who has since suffered a broken bone in his knee that will sideline the ex-Warrior for the rest of the season.
The Hawks will take the court with another vaguely familiar face to Warriors fans.
Center Dewayne Dedmon, who began his career as an undrafted free agent with Golden State in 2013, has started the last 16 games for the Hawks.
He contributed 15 points and 15 rebounds -- the second 15/15 double-double of his career -- in the win over the Jazz, then had 13 points and 10 rebounds against the Kings.
Dedmon has recorded five double-doubles in his stretch of 16 straight starts.
Updated March 23, 2018