Let the good times roll.
A day after clinching their sixth NBA Finals berth in the last eight seasons, the Warriors also got some great news regarding the injury report on Friday morning. Defensive stopper Gary Payton II, who missed most of the last two series with a fracture in his elbow, is expected to return for the Finals, possibly as early as Game 1.
“The Warriors are anticipating the return of a major rotation piece for the upcoming NBA Finals,” Shams Charania wrote in The Athletic. “Gary Payton II is progressing well and there’s optimism that he could be back at some point early in the series, possibly as soon as Game 1, sources told The Athletic on Friday.”
Payton’s return would be a huge boost for the Warriors. The guard was excellent in Golden State’s first round series vs. the Nuggets, at times being used in the closing lineup.
Payton was knocked out of action minutes into Game 2 of the second-round series vs. the Memphis Grizzlies when Dillon Brooks fouled him from behind on a fast break, leading to a scary fall with direct impact on his left, shooting, elbow. Brooks was issued a Flagrant 2 and was suspended for Game 3.
Payton was originally issued a three-to-five week recovery timetable. A return for Game 1 on June 2 would be four weeks after the fracture. Payton has resumed on-court work in recent days.