Seth Curry tested positive for COVID-19 on January 7, when he was pulled suddenly from the Philadelphia 76ers’ bench during a game against the Brooklyn Nets. From there, Curry went straight into isolation, and spent most of the next two weeks in his basement playing video games and watching football and basketball. A few days into Curry’s time away from the team, Sixers head coach Doc Rivers said that Curry was feeling good after having one bad day.
Curry returned on January 22 against Boston, and looked to be in good form, especially after being out for two weeks with COVID. He played 27 minutes and scored an efficient 15 points with ease, shooting 6-of-10 from the floor and 3-of-5 from beyond the arc. He had 14 points in his next game against Detroit, too. But his performance and physical condition have been up and down since then. He’s struggled to have the same energy on a consistent basis and it’s understandably slowed him down on the court — he had two scoreless games last week, and left early due to “illness” in the Sixers’ February 4 contest against the Portland Trail Blazers.
“He just looks tired and he’s looked like that for a while” Doc Rivers said after the game against Portland. “So we just need to be very safe. We’re in uncharted waters with all this [COVID] stuff. He said he didn’t feel great and that’s all we needed to hear. We just have to be very careful right now.”
On February 2, at one of the Sixers’ rare practices, Curry shared what it’s been like trying to recover and get back to form after having COVID.
“It’s been tough, little nick-knack injuries, banged up a little bit,” Curry explained. “Just trying to get my energy all the way back.”
“Some days I feel good, some days I’m just sluggish. It’s like I got to take a nap all day, so it’s weird but I am grateful to be able to get up and get on the court every day and play.”
Rivers has also highlighted the up-and-down nature of Curry’s return.
“It’s hard to tell,” Rivers said at Monday’s practice when asked about Curry’s condition. “There’s been moments where it’s looked like he’s had great energy, and then the next day [he doesn’t]. So it was good to see the last game. He looked good today [in practice].”
Curry is still dealing with ups and downs as he tries to get back into game shape. When speaking with reporters after Tuesday’s shootaround ahead of the Sixers’ game against the Sacramento Kings, he acknowledged that it’s been frustrating not feeling himself.
“Every day, I feel a little bit different,” he added. “It’s a work in progress trying to up my routine and... up my workouts off the floor to try to get back in game shape. But I think every night I learned where I am at as far as game experience. Every time I get on the floor for a game, I feel like I learned more about my body and what I miss.”
Curry’s case is another reminder of how brutal COVID is. It can have a lingering impact on anyone, including world-class athletes who seem to fare well early on after testing positive. As the season and its condensed schedule continues, Curry and the team are going to be careful with his workload as he tries to get back to his usual self.
Fortunately for Curry and the Sixers, he was able to have his best game since returning in Philly’s 119-111 win against the Kings on Tuesday. He was key to keeping things close in the first half with 16 points through the first two quarters, and finished the game with 22 points on 7-of-13 shooting (4-of-6 from three). He was looking for his shot again, comfortable firing from deep, and seemed shiftier when handling the ball.
“He kind of saved us in that first half,” Rivers said after the game. “It’s funny, it looked like him and Ben [Simmons] were the only two that had good rhythm early on, and it was good that our team recognized that.”
Simmons was also pleased to see Curry warming up again. “He’s a big part of this team,” Simmons said. “When he comes out firing and hitting shots like that, it’s great. You want to get him into a rhythm.”
Hopefully Curry can build off this performance and get back to feeling 100 percent again soon.