The Golden State Warriors are back in the NBA Finals for the sixth time in eight years, and Steve Kerr is excited to see his squad almost entirely healthy. They proved to the sports world that their dynasty never ended and was on nothing but a two-year hiatus after several injuries and departures.
The Warriors haven’t had a clean bill of health this whole season. Klay Thompson returned in early January and then Draymond Green (back) went down with an injury. Soon after Green returned in mid-March, Steph Curry (foot) went out for several weeks. The core trio played just 11 minutes together the whole season, and concerns regarding their reps aose.
Players like Gary Payton II, Otto Porter Jr., and Andre Iguodala have suffered injuries in the postseason as well. After practice on Wednesday, Kerr addressed the media on NBA Finals media day. He spoke about the possibility of seeing the Payton’s return in the finals after he hurt himself in the second round against Memphis. Kerr said:
“It was definitely work that was ramped up. Seems like everybody got through it well, but we’ll know more tomorrow.”
According to The Athletic’s Anthony Slater, the three injured players in question all practiced on Wednesday but didn’t scrimmage.
Iguodala hasn’t been available as much, but Porter is an important piece who gives the Warriors rebounding, defense and 3-point shooting.
Gary Payton II would be a game-time decision for the Golden State Warriors
Gary Payton II has been one of the key pieces off the bench for the Golden State Warriors this season. His on-ball defense on guards and overall hustle have been invaluable, and he was a starter in the Western Conference semifinals to guard Ja Morant. Many expected his absence to be a factor against Luka Doncic in the West finals, but the Warriors pulled through without him.
However, the NBA Finals is an entirely differently story. Boston guards like Jaylen Brown, Derrick White, Marcus Smart and others can certainly cause problems for the Warriors. Payton’s return helps them drastically.
Warriors coach Steve Kerr said Payton will be a game-time decision for Game 1 and is listed as questionable.
“Still lot of boxes to check off, but working every day just to get back out there and help my team. Hopefully, that time comes soon. … A few boxes. … We are not there yet, but we’re almost (there).”
Payton II fractured his left elbow in the Western Conference semifinals after Dillon Brooks fouled him. Brooks was ejected and later suspended for one game but Payton couldn’t play further in the series and the conference finals as well. “The Young Glove” is reportedly back for the NBA Finals and is expected to be a defensive menace once again.
Q. Who will win Game 1 of the NBA Finals?