After punching a ticket to the NBA Finals, the Golden State Warriors will get multiple days off as they await the winner of the Eastern Conference finals between the Boston Celtics and Miami Heat.
As the Warriors prepare for their trip to the NBA Finals, attention will turn to the recoveries of Andre Iguodala, Otto Porter Jr. and Gary Payton II. All three players have missed time during the postseason due to different injuries.
With the Finals looming, the Warriors could be getting back one of their injured rotation pieces. According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, Payton II is on-track to return to the court for the NBA Finals. There is “optimism” Payton II could return as early as Game 1 of the NBA Finals.
Via @ShamsCharania on Twitter:
Warriors guard Gary Payton II (elbow fracture) is expected to return in the NBA Finals, sources say. Here's how soon: pic.twitter.com/6TaaQri0Wc
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) May 27, 2022
After making back-to-back starts in the second round of the playoffs, Payton II was injured in Game 2 against the Memphis Grizzlies. Payton II crashed to the floor after a hard foul from Grizzlies wing Dillon Brooks. The play resulted in Payton II featuring his elbow. Brooks was ejected from Game 2 and suspended for Game 3 due to the flagrant two foul.
Payton II has missed the last nine playoff games for the Warriors. If Payton II can return for the Finals, it could give Steve Kerr a versatile chess piece in the lineup. Along with bolstering the Warriors’ defense, Payton II can play inside if the Warriors want to go with a small-ball lineup.
Prior to his injury, Payton II was averaging 6.1 points on 72.7% shooting from the floor with 3 rebounds and 1.3 assists in 15.8 minutes per contest.
Game 1 of the Finals is set for June 2.