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PHILADELPHIA – Steph Curry spent a segment of his Friday morning explaining to reporters the complications of his left shoulder injury. Near-term recovery will be difficult. A certain level of instability will remain in the joint. Recovery may mean definitive surgery. But, for now, he has avoided a procedural fix that would have been attached to the 4-6 month timeline. He is on the faster track to a return, aiming for about three or four weeks.

That leaves the golden window still open for a season that’s been derailed for the Warriors. It’s safe to assume they can sufficiently address their rotation issues, perhaps upgrade around the edges and get a healthy Curry back with plenty of time to return to competitive form. If Curry needed surgery, that theoretical world would come crashing down.

So this brings it up to last month. The Warriors created little room for error with a 14-15 start before The stone went down. They are now 11th in the West. If they fall off the cliff in the next few weeks, the soil may be too much to recover from.

“This is a very important part,” Curry said. “Because you want as much positivity and belief in what we’re doing as possible and give us a chance to finish the year strong. Looking back at the All-Star break, that sprint to the finish, knowing that no team in the West was truly separated. So we can say to ourselves “We’re still in good shape.” But you still have to go out and be a consistent basketball team (without me). I think we can do it.”

Shouldn’t that mean a .500 record is the goal? Win as much as you lose? Walk the water until Kari returns.

“It’s always kind of a good buzzword because it gives you something to tap into,” Curry said. “But I think where we’re at, we just want to win the road game.”

In their first opportunity, the Warriors tried and failed, losing to the 76ers 118-106 on Friday night in Philadelphia.

But first let’s go back to the end of last regular season. Curry missed the last month with a sprained ankle. The Warriors survived to go 6-6 in 12 games. That included five straight wins to close out the season, narrowly securing a third-place finish and a lucrative playoff run that led to the eventual title.

In the three Finals wins without Curry, these were Klay Thompson’s point totals: 36, 33, 41. He made 53 percent of his shots and 51 percent of his 3-point attempts per game.

“I don’t know,” Thompson said when asked what he remembered about that stretch. “Some close wins. Some tough L. Some hard nights. A few great nights. Things I’ve been used to for the past 12 years.”

Thompson doesn’t need to be volcanic with Curry Out, but he needs to be relatively efficient and can’t be devastatingly ineffective like he was against the Sixers. Thompson shot just 4 of 17 from the field, turned it over four times and stole several possessions as he tried to fire himself into a rhythm that never seemed to work on a night when they needed his offense more than usual.

“His knee was bothering him shooting,” Kerr said. “He was doubtful before the game. But the boy fights through it all. His effort was there, but the shots weren’t going in.”

Andrew Wiggins has missed the last six games with an adductor strain but is nearing a return. Kerr said there is a possibility Wiggins will play in Toronto on Sunday. Draymond Green is expected back after missing Friday with a quad contusion. That would lighten Thompson’s load somewhat.

“I’m not going to put any extra pressure on myself,” Thompson said. “I’m going to go out there and play my game, trust my teammates. I’m not going to put extra pressure to score a certain amount of goals, to lead the team. I’ll just go on my way.”

Jordan Poole also had a memorable surge to close out last regular season. His Friday night in Philadelphia had some setbacks. Poole scored 29 points as the starting point guard and leadoff hitter. He made four 3s, skated some mid-range looks and only really struggled when he also ambitiously attacked Joel Embiid. But it was an overall positive night for Poole and Donte DiVincenzo, who started alongside him outside of Wiggins.

DiVincenzo had a career-high five first-quarter 3s and finished with 17 points, 10 rebounds and six assists. He’s been getting into rhythm over the past few weeks and is being profiled as an important 25-minute piece for the next month while Curry recovers.

When Wiggins and Green return, the Warriors will use a starting lineup of Poole, Thompson, Wiggins, Green and Kevon Looney, with DiVincenzo and rookie Jonathan Cuminga as the most-used backups. That’s a capable top seven.

Beyond that, the search for reliable minutes seems to be taking Carey in several directions. He once again went to Ty Jerome and Anthony Lamb ahead of Moses Moody against the Sixers. Lamb hit two 3s in a 38-point first quarter, but otherwise wasn’t great. Jerome had four shots and four assists, better than two nights ago at Indiana. Moody got 16 minutes and made one of his four 3s. They will continue to fight for opportunity around the edges.

But the bigger late-rotation question materializes in the frontcourt. JaMychal Green missed both of his 3s in a quiet 11 minutes against the Sixers, and Santa Cruz returnee James Wiseman contributed 11 impressive minutes. He had a mid-range jumper, a DiVincenzo jumper, and this designed step-and-roll with Poole that beat Embiid and led to a soaring dunk, sending the Warriors bench into a frenzy. Curry jumped off the bench and had to grab his shoulder to steady himself during the celebration.

But it was the finer aspects of Weisman’s game that sharpened after an extended run in the G League. He handled himself better in concession defensive situations, shot decently, showed great physicality and was well positioned in the dunking spot under the basket.

“Those were some plays where they stayed with him and we opened up a 3 in the fourth,” Kerr said. “We had three or four open 3s. One of the reasons we were open is because James was right there on the edge as a threat on that bean. I thought he did a good job defensively as well, playing cat and mouse in the pick and roll. He’s gotten a lot better, he’s really picked up a lot over the last few weeks in Santa Cruz with all the training, game action, reps.”

Wiseman will remain with the Warriors on this road trip, meaning he will be available against the Raptors, Knicks and Nets. Draymond Green’s return would theoretically take him out of the rotation, but it’s possible he could take over some of JMychal Green’s minutes.

“You can see that he gives us something that we don’t have otherwise. that lob threat, that scoring threat around the basket,” Kerr said. “I like being able to play with him and impact meaningful plays. It is an important part of his development. At the same time, we try to win every game and it was a rough move.”

The next three weeks are all about survival for the Warriors. The Raptors have lost four straight. There’s a chance to steal a road win on Sunday and maybe split the back-to-back in New York.

That will give them a boost ahead of an eight-game homestand that includes dates against the Pistons, Hornets, Magic and struggling Hawks. The Warriors don’t need to splurge on a hot streak. They just need to avoid a major upset that sends them below .500.

“Wear the storm,” Thompson said. “We’ve done it before. We should have done it last year.”

(Top photo of Stephen Curry via David Dow / NBAE Getty Images)



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