Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Stephless in Houston?

After outscoring Houston in the first quarter all by himself in the first game of the playoffs, Steph Curry left the action later in the game with an ankle injury that also kept him out of the second.  Golden State won both.  The difference was that they blew out Houston early in the first, but pulled significantly ahead late in the second.

Without Steph, they need tighter ball control and defense, and they need Klay Thompson and at least one other shooter to get hot.  They got all of that in the second game, and more.

Now the series moves to Houston, and Steph wants to play in the third game.  Will he?  Nobody associated with Golden State, including fans, would be upset if he didn't.  The ankle has to be strong, not just playable, because further injury might be disastrous.  Steph wants to stay sharp, and the team would probably like to sweep.  But a return for the fourth game on Sunday wouldn't bother anyone, regardless of what happens in the third game.

Whether Houston even wants to play is an open question.  Harden and Howard are not destined to be teammates much longer.

In baseball, both the Pirates and Giants have significantly cooled off since their fast starts.  Right now if the Giants didn't have bad luck, they wouldn't have any luck at all.  They held veterans back in spring training to prevent injuries, which seemed to work--for a week or so.  Now they are hit hard by injuries, particularly among relief pitchers, and their veterans show some signs of rust, with less than stellar fielding and pitching.

But two games lost on double play balls that were instead errors, and then a game that was won with the closer on the mound and just one strike to go but eventually lost in 11 innings?  That's just weird.

Romo and Kontos are on the DL.  Chris Heston was apparently so ineffective in short relief that he was sent down.  The bullpen is getting younger fast.  So far the new starting pitching acquisitions are doing well.  The lowly flu is hampering Bumgarner still, and the veteran back end of the rotation is having a rough time, as was feared.  But Matt Cain giving up three runs really doesn't matter if the Giants can't score at all.

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