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Steve Kerr says ‘there’s no way’ Stephen Curry plays in first round

SF Gate logo SF Gate 26-03-2018 By Connor Letourneau
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Warriors head coach Steve Kerr squelched any lingering hopes Sunday that Stephen Curry could play in the first round of the playoffs.

“Oh, there’s no way he’s playing in the first round,” Kerr said before Sunday evening’s game against Utah. “There’s no way. He’s being re-evaluated in three weeks, so we’ve got to be ready for playing without him.”

Curry is scheduled to have the sprained MCL in his left knee re-evaluated on April 14, which seemingly left open the possibility that he could return for Game 1 of a first-round series. The Warriors, however, aren’t willing to rush the face of the franchise back.

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Ligament sprains are graded on a 1-3 scale, with Curry’s being deemed a Grade 2. The typical recovery for such an injury is 4-to-6 weeks.

“Unless it’s a really rapid recovery, usually it’s a little bit longer than three weeks,” Dr. Luga Podesta, a knee specialist in Naples, Fla., told The Chronicle on Saturday. “Straight-ahead running isn’t as much of a problem as cutting and jumping. Planting his foot and making that turn with his leg planted can be tricky with that type of injury.”

Still, Curry isn’t quite ready to rule out a possible return in the first round. Asked about Kerr’s comments, he said: “Hopefully I prove what Coach said wrong and put myself in a position to get back as soon as possible.”

This much is certain: If without Curry, Golden State will lean on its three other All-Stars — Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green — in the first round.

Green was expected to return Sunday from a pelvic contusion that sidelined him for Friday’s win over Atlanta, but was forced to miss the game against the Jazz when he came down with flu-like symptoms. He could be back in the starting lineup as soon as Tuesday against Indiana or Thursday against Milwaukee.

Durant, who is missing his fifth straight game Sunday with fractured rib cartilage, could also return Tuesday or Thursday. Thompson (fractured right thumb) is expected to come back a bit later, but with plenty of time to settle back into a rhythm before the playoffs.

With less than three weeks until the playoffs, the Warriors are essentially locked into the Western Conference’s No. 2 seed. Which team will face Golden State as the No. 7 seed, however, remains in flux.

Entering Sunday evening’s Warriors- Jazz game, 3½ games separate No. 3 seed Portland from No. 8 seed Utah. The Timberwolves, at 42-32, currently occupy the No. 7 seed.

The big question now is whether Curry will be available for a potential date in the Western Conference semifinals. Regardless of when the two-time NBA MVP comes back, Kerr is confident that he’ll be at his best.

“We know Steph has a history of coming back strong from injuries, so there’s a good chance he comes back during the playoffs at some point, and we’re at full steam,” Kerr said. “That’s the goal, and that’s the plan.”

Two days after spraining his MCL, Curry isn’t using crutches and walks with only a slight limp. Instead of joining the team on its final three regular-season road trips, he will stay in the Bay Area to focus on his rehab.

It should help that he has been through this process before.

In spring 2016, Curry was sidelined for two weeks during the playoffs after sustaining a less-serious Grade 1 MCL sprain when he slipped on the court in Houston during Game 4 of the Warriors’ first-round series against the Rockets. He missed the rest of that series — which Golden State won in five games — and sat out the first three games of a second-round series against Portland before coming off the bench to score 40 points in Game 4.

“At the end of the day, it’s a tough turn of events,” Curry said of his latest MCL sprain. “I’ll have an opportunity to play in games that matter down the stretch of the season or into the playoffs. That’s really the focus. Everything else is really just happenstance.”

Connor Letourneau is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: cletourneau@sfchronicle.com. Twitter: @Con_Chron

Golden State Warriors center Stephen Curry (30) carefully sits down on the bench after sustaining an injury during the third quarter of an NBA basketball game, Friday, March 23, 2018 in Oakland, Calif.

Golden State Warriors center Stephen Curry (30) carefully sits down on the bench after sustaining an injury during the third quarter of an NBA basketball game, Friday, March 23, 2018 in Oakland, Calif.
© D. Ross Cameron, Special To The Chronicle

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