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Gary Payton II Will Return For Game 1 Of The 2022 NBA Finals

The Golden State Warriors are getting a boost in their backcourt rotation from the jump during the 2022 NBA Finals. After not appearing in a game since suffering a fractured elbow during the Western Conference Semifinals against the Memphis Grizzlies, Shams Charania and Anthony Slater of The Athletic reported on Thursday morning that Payton was on track to dress for Game 1 against the Boston Celtics.

Eventually, Steve Kerr confirmed that Payton will, indeed, be available as the NBA Finals begin — along with Andre Iguodala and Otto Porter Jr., giving Golden State their full complement of wings for Game 1.

Payton went down in the opening moments of Game 2 against the Grizzlies, as the Warriors’ tenacious guard attempted a layup and was on the receiving end of a hard foul by Memphis wing Dillon Brooks. After the play was reviewed, Brooks was ejected for a Flagrant 2 and eventually suspended for Game 3, while Warriors coach Steve Kerr was not shy about expressing his belief that the foul crossed the line.

As for Payton, the incident caused him some serious discomfort in his left elbow, and immediately left the game before being diagnosed with a fracture and some slight ligament damage. There was, however, optimism he’d be able to eventually return to the team as they pursued a championship. One of the stingiest defensive players in the NBA, Payton averaged 6.1 points, three rebounds, 1.3 assists, 0.9 steals, and 0.7 blocks in 15.9 minutes per game during the postseason prior to his injury.