“Optimism” Warriors’ Gary Payton II will return for NBA Finals

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Gary Payton II has been in street clothes and a cast since Game 2 of the second round, when he fractured his elbow on a flagrant foul from Dillon Brooks. Payton was missed as a defensive presence against the Mavericks, but the Warriors were able to hold Luka Doncic and friends in relative check without him.

They could use a Payton return against Boston (Golden State’s likely opponent), a deeper and more balanced team than Dallas — and it looks like they will have him, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic.

Charania said there was optimism Payton would return for the Finals, maybe even Game 1, scheduled for June 2.

Payton fractured his elbow on a controversial play on May 3, which would have him sidelined for about four weeks. It happened with Payton on a breakaway for a transition layup, Brooks tried to go for the block, but he wound up and hit Payton on the head, knocking him to the ground.

Brooks was ejected and served a one-game suspension for the play. Payton said he believed Brooks was trying to make a play on the ball and there is no bad blood between the two.