How Steph Curry's decision to come off bench was influenced by Klay Thompson

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How Steph's decision to come off bench was influenced by Klay originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

Shortly after Klay Thompson scrimmaged for the first time with the Warriors on Dec. 30 prior to his triumphant Jan. 9 return, coach Steve Kerr made it clear the five-time NBA All-Star would return to the starting lineup.

But Thompson was on a minutes restriction when he came back from 31 months off while rehabbing two major lower leg injuries, and that presented a problem.

Because the Warriors were limiting Thompson's minutes, he struggled to find a rhythm based on the rotation patterns. It wasn't until Kerr and the Warriors' medical staff increased his minutes that Thompson started to flourish.

Steph Curry was paying attention to how Thompson performed during the initial stages of his comeback.

The two-time NBA MVP returned to the Warriors' lineup Saturday night for Game 1 of their first-round playoff series against the Denver Nuggets, and the conventional wisdom was that he would start in his first game since March 16 when he sustained a sprained left foot.

Instead, when the Warriors announced their starting five, Jordan Poole, not Curry, was among the group with Thompson, Andrew Wiggins, Draymond Green and Kevon Looney.

While the move to bring Curry off the bench was surprising, ESPN's Malika Andrews reported during the game that it in fact was his decision to not start.

After the Warriors rolled to a 123-107 win over the Nuggets in Game 1, led by Poole's game-high 30 points, Curry was asked to explain his choice to come off the bench rather than start, and whether he expects things to stay the same or change for Game 2 on Monday night at Chase Center.

"I have no expectation of what's next," Curry told reporters. "We're always trying to figure this out because this is kind of a tough situation to deal with in terms of the quick ramp up I've had and that this is playoff-type intensity and atmosphere. But I learned a lot even watching Klay's comeback, knowing there's an energy to start in terms of that's what I do, that's what I expect. But also how can you make those minutes the most impactful.

"When I watched him go through it when he came back, that's a long time he was sitting, the end of the first [quarter] and most of the second [quarter] and trying to find a rhythm, so I want to play a constant pace throughout the game and knowing what my allotment was, coming off the bench and playing those six minutes to end every quarter was probably the right move. And we'll see what happens with me and [Warriors director of sports medicine and performance Rick Celebrini's] conversations with how I came out of the game and respond tomorrow and into Monday."

Before the start of the series, Kerr told reporters that Curry wouldn't play 30-35 minutes initially, and on Saturday, the Warriors' star played just under 22 minutes. He played around six minutes in each of the first three quarters, but with Golden State cruising late, Curry played under four minutes in the fourth quarter.

RELATED: Steph gets massive ovation upon return in Game 1

Curry's minutes likely will ramp up as the series progresses, but for now, he's taking a cautious, smart approach and he has his Splash Brother to thank for that.

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