OAKLAND, California (REUTERS) - The banged-up Golden State Warriors are ready to turn to Stephen Curry, the team's heart and soul, in the NBA Finals as they try to overcome injuries in search of a fourth championship in five years.
With Kevin Durant ruled out for Wednesday's (June 5) Game Three, sharp-shooting guard Klay Thompson day-to-day with a hamstring strain and backup forward Kevon Looney out for the series, the Warriors may need more from Curry than ever before.
Curry, who is arguably the greatest shooter in NBA history, is the leader of the Warriors and has a proven ability to bring stability to a team, someone who leads by example with his work ethic and ability to take over a game in a flash.
"Where he's grown is his awareness, his understanding of what needs to happen, what he needs to do when other guys are out, just sort of game management stuff," Warriors head coach Steve Kerr told reporters on Tuesday.
"But he's always been the same person. I think that's the beauty of Steph. He doesn't change. He's a rock. Our guys lean on him all the time."
If Thompson is unable to play on Wednesday then the Warriors may need a vintage performance from Curry when the best-of-seven NBA Finals versus the Toronto Raptors, tied at one game apiece, resumes in Oakland.
Curry said that despite the injuries to his team mates, he does not feel a need to change his approach to what could prove to be a pivotal game given that teams who win Game Three in a 1-1 NBA Finals have a 31-7 series record.
"We all just understand the moment and we're very locked in and focused on adapting to the circumstances that are thrown at us right now with a lot of injuries and kind of uncertainty of even who is going to be able to play," said Curry.
"We have been through a lot, had a lot of different experiences. This is just adding to that book. So we have to be ready."
Thompson suffered his injury when he landed awkwardly after a three-point attempt early in the fourth quarter of Sunday's win and limped off the court soon after.
Kerr said if the team's training staff feels good about Thompson's ability to play without risk of making things worse, then he would play on Wednesday.
Two-time reigning NBA Finals Most Valuable Player Durant, who has missed the last seven games dating back to the Western Conference semi-finals, is improving and ramping up his exercises but no date has been set for his return.
Looney, who suffered a cartilage fracture in the Warriors' Game Two win, has come off the team's bench in every game during the playoffs and his absence is a blow to their depth.
"We have a lot of guys who have played long, difficult seasons. They take great care of themselves. But there's a certain amount of luck involved with this, too, and we know that," said Kerr.
"We have been on both sides of that. Some of our opponents have suffered injuries. We have suffered injuries. It's just part of the deal. You just keep pushing forward."