'Excited' Stephen Curry to be on minutes restriction

SAN FRANCISCO --  Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry said he will be on a minutes restriction -- likely 24 to 28 -- when he makes his return to game action on Thursday night against the Toronto Raptors.

Curry said he is excited to play after four months of rehab while recovering from a broken left hand. He has played in four games this season, averaging 20.3 points, 6.5 assists and 5.0 rebounds.

"It feels like the first day of school pretty much all over again, which is exciting," Curry said at shootaround Thursday. "So I feel pretty comfortable, pretty confident in where I'm at physically -- and just excited to get back out there."

Curry said that the team arrived at 24-28 minutes in order for him to go full speed for a whole game without burning out.

"I think I can play a lot more than that just based on the work that I've put in, but you gotta be smart about it in that sense," he said. "And you also have to feel the game, too. Obviously, I want to be out there when it matters -- finishing quarters, finishing the game and being available in that respect."

The air of anticipation inside Chase Center on Thursday morning was palpable as Curry and his teammates finished off a morning workout. Curry, who has been out since breaking his hand on Oct. 30, went through his usual post-practice routine by hitting jumpers from all over the floor. 

Curry, who initially had surgery on Nov. 1 and another procedure in December to take pins out of the hand, noted after his first contact practice on Feb. 22 that he is still dealing with some nerve damage. He does not expect that to hamper him in any way and has repeatedly discussed his "new normal" for how the hand will feel in a game.

"I have confidence in what I need to do with the ball in my hands and with my shot, and being able to take a hit on it and all that type of stuff," Curry said. "And I just want to get to a point where I don't think about it on the floor, and hopefully that comes back pretty quick."

Curry expects opponents to test his left hand early, but says he isn't concerned about the challenges that might arise. He wants to get over the mental hurdle of being hit in the hand during games.

"Everybody knows my left hand was hurt, so they're probably gonna go after it a little bit, which I welcome with open arms," Curry said. "But it's -- again, two surgeries and you go through all the nerve stuff, and it's been through a lot for four months. And just trying to get to that point where I can go to the basket and take a hit, shake it off and keep moving. I'll go through all that tonight and hopefully come out all right on the back end."

Without Curry, injured guard Klay Thompson and forward  Kevin Durant, who left in free agency, the Warriors have stumbled to a 14-48 record -- the worst mark in the league. 

How much Curry contributes remains to be seen. He said that he and the Warriors have discussed playing in back-to-backs but a final decision hasn't been made. The Warriors have four sets of back-to-backs remaining on the schedule.

"When I come back, I want to be all the way back, and not have that kind of 'now you see me, now you don't' type of vibe," Curry said. "That's why I had all these checkpoints to get through to get cleared to play, and now I wanna be out there every night, and finish out the year strong. So I got 20 games -- 16, 17, 18 games, whatever it is. Should be fun."

At Caesars Sportsbook, the Warriors opened as 8-point home underdogs against the Raptors. Oddsmakers estimated that Curry is worth anywhere from 3-5 points to the point spread.

"I think [Curry] is as valuable as anyone to the spread in the NBA," Alan Berg, senior oddsmaker for Caesars Sportsbook, told ESPN. "He's worth a lot."

Curry isn't just looking at this game. He said that he still wants to play for Team USA in the Tokyo Olympics.