SAN FRANCISCO — A week off between games can benefit a team’s health.
Three Warriors role players battling injuries last round — Gary Payton II, Otto Porter Jr. and Andre Iguodala — are all available to play in Game 1, Warriors coach Steve Kerr said pregame.
“We did a little bit of scrimmaging yesterday, and all three guys felt good this morning,” Kerr said. “We’ll see how it plays out. I think a lot of our decisions, especially here in Game 1, you’ve got to feel how the game is going, try to decide what combinations we need out there. But it’s great to have all three guys back, and I think all three can contribute for sure.”
The three of them provide depth — particularly on the defensive end — against the balanced attack of the Celtics. It gives Kerr options.
Payton fractured his elbow a month ago on a controversial foul by the Grizzlies’ Dillon Brooks. 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.
“The good thing about injuring an elbow instead of a knee or an ankle is you can do all kinds of conditioning stuff while you’re injured, while you’re healing,” Kerr said. “Over the last few weeks I’ve watched him after every practice doing defensive slides and sprints and handling the ball with his offhand, and then slowly but surely he’s been able to progress into left-handed layups and then short shots, and he’s kind of progressed farther out over the last few days.
“It’s inspiring to watch him work knowing how much he wants to play and how much this means to him given especially his journey and how much he’s bounced around to get to this place.”
For the Celtics, center Robert Williams III is available without a minutes restriction, but Ime Udoka said they would monitor him because they didn’t want to wipe out all the gains he’s made by overusing him in one game.