Steve Kerr Clarifies Warriors’ Choice to Bench Steph Curry in Season’s Last Game

The Golden State Warriors hosted the Utah Jazz on Sunday to wrap off their 2023–24 regular season. Superstar guard Stephen Curry’s absence from the game was revealed by the Warriors prior to tipoff.

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Curry’s absence may raise questions because Golden State is about to contend for the postseason, but head coach Steve Kerr made the choice to give him time off because he thinks the Warriors need Curry at his best for the games that are still to be played.

San Francisco Chronicle on X: "Stephen Curry and Draymond Green are  inactive Sunday as the Golden State Warriors prepare for the NBA's play-in  tournament." / X

“[Curry] could play. If he had to play, he would be playing,” Kerr said before the game. “Given what we are facing, it made no sense to put him out there today. We’re hoping that we’ve got three games this week, so getting a rest today, getting time to recover before that first play-in game, that’s much more important.”

“It made no sense to put [Curry] out there today.” — Steve Kerr

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Along with teammate Draymond Green, Curry was the only Warrior to miss Sunday’s game against the Jazz. The remainder of the Golden State roster was also sitting out.

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On Sunday, Golden State didn’t have much to play for, but later in the week, they will have everything to play for.

The Warriors still had a chance to move up in the standings going into their matchup with the Jazz.

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Golden State was ranked tenth in the Western Conference going into the day, but if things went their way, they might very well move up to eighth position. 

It would be significant if they could advance to the eighth spot since it would allow them to compete in the play-in round and give the Warriors two chances to qualify for the postseason.

Nevertheless, there was a much greater chance that Golden State would either stay in tenth position or only move up to ninth. Either way, they would have to win two straight games in the play-in round in order to advance to the field of sixteen playoff teams.

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Kerr made the decision that it would be better for the Warriors to take control of their destiny at full strength rather than take a gamble by hoping that the appropriate teams would win and lose across the league, which is why he gave Curry and Green the day off on Sunday.

Although there was a remote possibility that scoreboard watching would alter their strategy, Kerr pointed out that all games with postseason implications are played at the same time on the last day of the season.

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“We’ll be aware of the scores but in today’s NBA, the Lakers are up 15 with five minutes left, it’s not over,” Kerr said. “It would have to be a 30-point game in one direction or the other to start thinking [about changing our game plan]. Since the games are at the same time, which is by design, I don’t anticipate that will be a factor.”

The Warriors’ play-in tournament game on Tuesday night is a must-win scenario, unless there is a significant reorganization of the rankings on Sunday. Curry will, at the at least, arrive for the game well rested.