UPDATE (11:50am PDT on Sunday): After missing the last two games, Stephen Curry will play in Game 4 against the Rockets, the Warriors announced 40 minutes before tipoff.
HOUSTON – The Warriors are about to discover Sunday if Stephen Curry’s return is enough for them to push the Houston Rockets to the brink of elimination.
Curry’s right ankle, tweaked in Game 1 on April 16, has passed all preliminary tests and the reigning MVP is expected to receive full clearance for Game 4 on Sunday afternoon at Toyota Center.
The Warriors won Game 1, with Curry scoring a game-high 24 points before injury forced him to the sideline, but have split two games with the NBA scoring leader reduced to being a spectator.
The Rockets, who eked out a 97-96 win Game 3 behind James Harden’s 35 points, including a game-winning jumper with 2.7 seconds remaining, will be trying to even the best-of-seven series at two games apiece before the series returns to Oakland for Game 5 on Wednesday.
Warriors by 9.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH:
Stephen Curry vs. Patrick Beverley: Curry’s anticipated return should provide a major boost for the Warriors, as his presence pulls apart defenses like nobody else. Beverley may be even more of a pest than usual in an effort to push Curry, whose conditioning could be compromised by his two-game absence.
Klay Thompson vs. James Harden: Harden clearly got the better of this battle in Game 3, and it was enough to give Houston a narrow victory. If Klay closes the gap, much less gains an edge, the Warriors likely will blow the Rockets off their floor.
Warriors: G Steph Curry (R ankle) is listed as probable. F Kevon Looney (L hip surgery) is listed as out.
Rockets: F Sam Dekker (back tightness) is listed as out.
The Warriors have won two of three in this series and six of the last eight postseason matchups, going back to the 2015 Western Conference Finals. The Warriors have won 14 of the last 16 meetings overall.
“You kind of have to force yourself at this point. I don’t know how it’ll be (Sunday) when I get out there in a game situation. I don’t know where my mind will be. I know I have confidence after what I’ve been doing the last couple days to kind of prove I can do what I need to do.” Steph Curry, on his mindset going into Game 4