Steve Kerr willing to extend Steph Curry's playoff minutes

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Kerr willing to extend Steph up to 40 minutes in playoffs originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

Plenty of Warriors fans got what they had long been asking for on Sunday, when Steve Kerr put Steph Curry back into Golden State's 113-101 win over the Memphis Grizzlies with 9:26 remaining in the fourth quarter, well in advance of Curry's typical time to re-enter in the final frame. The Dubs entered the fourth with a 17-point lead, but the Grizzlies opened on an 8-0 run, and Kerr decided he couldn't wait any longer.

It was time to chase this win.

Kerr got plenty of flack earlier in the season when, in explaining why he wasn't more flexible with Curry's fourth-quarter minutes, he insisted that the Warriors weren't "chasing" wins. On one hand, it made sense, given the absence of Klay Thompson and the general unlikelihood that Golden State would legitimately be able to compete for the NBA title. On the other hand, one could argue -- and many did -- that the Warriors should have "chased" every win they had a legitimate chance at for those exact same reasons.

For the most part, Kerr stuck to his guns. He rarely brought Curry back in the game with more than six or seven minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. But as the season wound down, and each game carried a little more weight, Kerr was willing to be slightly more flexible with Curry's minutes, depending on what the situation required.

Sunday was a perfect example. And it's a good thing. Though the Grizzlies actually continued their run after Curry re-entered and even went on to regain the lead, the two-time MVP and the 2020-21 NBA scoring champion steadied his team, and then provided a few knockout punches to seal the win. With the victory, the Warriors clinched the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference play-in tournament, meaning Golden State only has to win one of its next two games to guarantee a spot in the playoffs. 

The play-in tournament essentially is a pre-playoffs, so the Warriors have to give themselves the best chance at winning every game from here on out. And with that in mind, Kerr plans to continue unleashing Curry a bit more, if that's what's needed.

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"Yeah, it's an option now," Kerr said of potentially playing Curry up to 40 minutes per game, like he did Sunday. "In the regular season, it's not an option, as I made clear at midseason, somewhat controversially. But it's an option now because we're in the thick of it and every game is crucial. But that's about the limit. I would hesitate to play him much more than that. He has so much on his shoulders and it's not easy playing for 40 minutes, the way he plays, especially."

RELATED: Twitter reacts to Steph going nuclear as Warriors beat Grizzlies

Not only did Curry re-enter Sunday's fourth quarter much earlier than normal, he also showcased the shooting volume that many Warriors fans have been clamoring for. Curry attempted 36 shots on his way to 46 points in the victory, the most he has attempted in any game in his entire career.

Apparently, Kerr would like to see him shoot even more than that.

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OK, OK, so in addition to giving Warriors fans what they want, Kerr might be having a little fun at their expense, too.

It's a safe bet that all parties involved can live with that. Especially when it leads to wins.

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