(Reuters) – The loss of one leading player to injury would be cause for panic for most NBA teams but the reigning champion Golden State Warriors have such impressive depth that they have cruised along despite missing a handful of regulars.
The Warriors own the league’s longest active winning streak after victories in each of their last 10 games despite missing five regulars, including two-time MVP Stephen Curry who missed his sixth straight game on Wednesday with a sprained ankle.
“He’s one of the best players in the world, so not to have him out there is unfortunate. But while he’s not here, we do not make excuses for his absence,” Klay Thompson, speaking on a global media conference call on Thursday, said of Curry.
”We still try to do what we do without him, and that’s just play hard, play together, and win as many games as possible.
“We’ve been successful without him so far because of our depth, and we don’t make excuses when some of our best players are injured.”
In addition to Curry, who will miss the Christmas Day game against the Cleveland Cavaliers — a clash featuring the teams who competed in the last three NBA Finals — the Warriors have also been without Draymond Green (shoulder) and Zaza Pachulia (shoulder) for five of their last six games.
Shaun Livingston (sore right knee) has missed the last two games, while Andre Iguodala sat out Wednesday’s game with flu-like symptoms.
The Warriors, who are second in the Western Conference with a 25-6 record, say dealing with wear and tear is par for the course after playing deep into June over the last three seasons while capturing two championships and there is no reason for panic.
“As long as we can win games while guys are out, we’re confident that they’re going to actually be healthy and will be ready to go for the playoffs,” said head coach Steve Kerr.
“This is all sort of expected in many ways, and we’re dealing with it the best we can.”
Perhaps the main reason the injury-hit Warriors have not missed a beat is Kevin Durant, who has raised his game to another level in the absence of the other key players.
The Warriors believe the injuries will help them in the long run, as was the case last season when Durant was out injured.
“We went through a similar stretch like this last year when KD went down, and I thought we were better for it,” said Warriors forward David West.
“We’re on that same trail in terms of our team just growing and getting better, figuring out what lineups work and who works well together, because ultimately we’re going to have to get through a tough, tough Western Conference playoff.”
Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Ken Ferris