Nick FriedellESPN Staff Writer
SAN FRANCISCO — Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green injured his left index finger during Friday night’s 127-110 loss to the San Antonio Spurs, and his status for Saturday’s home game against the Charlotte Hornets is unclear.
Green was wearing a wrap over both his wrist and left index finger when he met with reporters following Friday’s game and said he was dealing with a “ligament” issue. Officially, the Warriors called the injury a sprained left index finger. It remains to be determined whether Green will need an MRI.
“I hurt my finger,” Green said. “Ligament action. But it is what it is. … I don’t know [about Saturday]; we’ll see. It’s pretty sore. I couldn’t grip the ball the whole entire [game], probably since the second quarter. Which is why I was making a lot of one-handed, right-handed passes and dribbling left with my right hand. I couldn’t really grip the ball, so we’ll see. Hopefully, it will calm down a little bit overnight, but who knows?”
Green’s injury comes just two nights after Warriors superstar Stephen Curry broke his left hand following a collision with Phoenix Suns big man Aron Baynes. The Warriors announced prior to Friday’s game that Curry will be out at least three months after undergoing surgery.
With Curry out of the lineup, Green acknowledged that the atmosphere was much different inside a subdued Chase Center on Friday night.
“There were definitely less fans there tonight, which is to be expected,” Green, 29, said after Golden State fell to 1-4. “It’s a different vibe, for sure. When you’re not winning as much, that’s usually the case. The hope is that people ride with you through the thick and the thin, but that’s just not the reality of this world that we live in, so it is what it is. We got each other and we’re going to rock with that, and that’s all that matters.”
Warriors coach Steve Kerr said prior to Friday’s contest that with Curry out for the foreseeable future and with Klay Thompson sidelined as he recovers from an ACL injury, the Warriors would be even more cautious about Green’s minutes moving forward.
“The one thing we won’t do is run [Green] into the ground,” Kerr said. “We have to maintain a good schedule with Draymond minutes-wise and games-wise. If he’s banged up, we should make sure we take care of him. He’s ready to go tonight and excited to play. He’s been great in our meetings, practices. He’s taken on a real leadership role. He understands how much our young players need him, and he’s been fantastic. He’s also one of the most competitive people I’ve ever met in my life, and so this will be a big challenge for him and for everybody.
“Right now, he’s kind of the lone survivor, so he’s got to help all these young guys and teach them what we’ve been about, help to mentor them, and the most important thing is to carry on with the way we’ve gone about our business over the last five years-plus. In terms of preparation, work ethic and joy and everything that we’ve been about, it’s got to carry forward, because that’s what the culture is about. The players are the ones who really carry that, and so we will be relying heavily on Draymond for that.”
After watching Green play 34 minutes — compiling six points, eight rebounds and seven assists — in Friday’s loss, Kerr said ideally he would like to keep his forward’s minutes even lower than that in the future.
“Not more than that,” Kerr said. “I definitely don’t want to drive him up to the 40-minute mark. That’s too much. We got a back-to-back; we play again tomorrow. We’ll just sort of take it game by game and see how he’s doing, but we were right there late in the third and so we wanted to make a push with him out there. So we played him a few extra minutes tonight than we normally would, but I thought he played well.”
Like the rest of the Warriors’ players and coaches, Green was upfront about the fact that Curry’s absence changed everything for the group.
“Different,” Green said of playing without Curry. “Obviously, Steph draws a lot of attention on the offensive side of the ball. He brings leadership to the table for us, so him not being out there, things are a lot different for us. And our offense is really built around him, so [still] kind of figuring that out and navigating through it. That’s a different challenge.”