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(Reuters) - The Golden State Warriors were given a welcome boost on Saturday when coach Steve Kerr said that reigning NBA Most Valuable Player Stephen Curry was expected to play in Sunday's Game Four against the Houston Rockets.
Curry, who missed the last two games in the Western Conference first-round series after spraining his right ankle in the opener, experienced no pain after taking part in a five-on-five scrimmage during practice at Toyota Center in Houston.
"I expect him to play, he looked fine," Kerr told reporters after the team's workout session. "He scrimmaged today, we went full-court, five-on-five and he didn't have any pain this morning or after the workout.
"So we're expecting him to play, but we'll see how he is tomorrow morning."
Asked what gave him confidence in Curry's fitness after a two-game absence, Kerr replied: "The fact that he has no pain and the fact that he went through the three-on-three yesterday and the full-court scrimmage today and had no pain, no limping.
"He said he was fine. The conditioning, the rhythm, after being off that long, it's an issue but we will monitor that. Steph doesn't take too long to get his rhythm back generally.
"I think he will be fine but we may have to alter the substitution pattern a little bit, get him out earlier, depending on his wind."
Curry, the league's leading scorer who averaged 30.1 points, 6.7 assists and 5.4 rebounds during the regular season, was delighted to be given the vote of confidence by Kerr.
"It's the playoffs, this is what you want to be ready for, see your guys out there fighting, doing what they need to do to help us get wins," said Curry.
"I want to be out there with them. I enjoy that atmosphere. Hopefully this Game Three will be the last one that I miss.
"The only thing I need to be sure about is the stability of it (the ankle) when I need to call on a certain move or a certain pivot, or a change of direction, a change of speed. I feel I'm at that point right now."
The NBA champion Warriors led the Rockets 2-1 in their best-of-seven playoff series.
Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles; Editing by Andrew Both