Warriors get welcome news on key player ahead of Game 2
Down 0-1 in the NBA Finals, the Golden State Warriors may be ready to activate their trap card.
Warriors head coach Steve Kerr told reporters on Saturday that guard Gary Payton II will be available for more usage if necessary during Game 2, per Anthony Slater of The Athletic. Payton was active for Game 1 of the series but only for selective defensive possessions as the team’s trainers believed that Payton needed more recovery time, Kerr added.
Payton himself told reporters that he was ready to go and did not have any discomfort in his elbow.
Gary Payton II: “I’m available. Ready to go. Just waiting on the call.” He said there’s no discomfort in elbow. “I try to tell (Steve Kerr) I’m ready every day.”
— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) June 4, 2022
The defensive specialist Payton has not played in a month since fracturing his left (shooting) elbow on a controversial foul during the second round of the playoffs (video here). While Payton was active for Game 1 of the Finals, he did not actually see any playing time.
The 6-foot-3 Payton is probably a little too small to make a difference on Celtics star Jayson Tatum. But he could be a valuable weapon to throw at guards Marcus Smart and Derrick White, or even wing Jaylen Brown off switches. For a player that was seeing about 18-to-20 minutes a game in the playoffs before going down, Payton’s return will be a very welcome one (and not just because of his personality).