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Warriors Injury Report: Positive News on Gary Payton II Turns Hectic Instantly With Major Big-3 Responsibility

Published 02/10/2024, 7:15 PM EST

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USA Today via Reuters

Gary Payton was cleared to take the floor, and Coach Kerr had his first assignment ready. Returning after a 4-1 road trip, the Golden State Warriors will be hosting one of the most dangerous teams in the NBA currently, the Phoenix Suns. But now that he’s back, the Dubs can breathe easy.

Having to face the Big 3 of Phoenix is not ideal without having a clear plan in action. And that’s where Payton comes in. His defensive acumen and the leadership he brings to court will prove crucial tonight. Kerr, knowing the task very well, put him to guard one of the trio.

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Payton was out with a Grade 2 hamstring strain and missed 16 consecutive games. Hence, the Warriors are bound to take it slow with him. Yet, his overall presence on-court will be great for the team. The only key player out for the GSW is Chris Paul. But that’s still a work in progress.

For the Suns, though, Bradley Beal is listed as probable, but chances are that he will suit up. Stephen Curry‘s brother-in-law and Phoenix’s forward guard, Damion Le,e is still listed as ‘Out’. The Suns are also coming off a three-game winning streak.

As mentioned above, the Warriors will look to continue their streak as well, having crushed the Pacers in their latest victory. Stephen Curry and Co. are yet to win a match against the Suns this season. Throughout the year, Phoenix has always had the upper hand. Not to mention, in the 262 regular season games both the franchises have played, the Suns take the lead with 150 wins to the Warriors’ 112.

So, tonight’s victory will be a crowning jewel for the dynasty that has struggled since the start of the 2023-24 season. And it seems like Coach Kerr is doing an inner cheerleading dance having Gary Payton II back.

Kerr spies something glittering with Gary Payton II back in the game

It seems like Steve Kerr is the most excited at Gary’s return than the man himself. Talking to Jack Winter of Clutch Points, the Dubs coach was all smiles as Winter asked how Payton fits into the new identity that the Warriors have created over the past weeks.

Read More: What Happened to Gary Payton II? Medical Expert’s Opinion as Shorthanded Warriors Suffer Another Serious Blow

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There was no hesitation in the Coach’s eyes, as he answered, “Gary is such an interesting player because he’s almost like a 6’3 power forward … We’re playing with a little more athleticism, a little more pop and he fits right into that.”

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A crucial rotation player, GP2 was key to their 2022 title run. The “pop” Kerr mentioned is nothing short of fact. Payton’s energy and leadership on the floor were unmatched. The one factor that he mentioned was the “lineup dependence” of Payton. But Kerr has a solution for that too – putting him in certain combinations, more specifically, in units that have Draymond Green and Dario Saric at the center.

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While it may take some time for Gary to get back to his full strength, there is no doubt that he would be a key piece for the Dubs going forward.

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Written by:

Geisha Pulimoottil Don

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Edited by:

Sameen Nawathe