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2022 NBA Finals: Warriors get big boost from second Gary Payton, whose return could legitimately swing the series

2022 NBA Finals: Warriors get big boost from second Gary Payton, whose return could legitimately swing the series

The the Warriors Try a lot of different things in 107-88, Match Two, Evening Victory Series on Celtics Sunday. They put more pressure on shooters, notably Al Horford and Marcus Smart, both of whom basically dared to unlock 3s in Game 1, which they did to match the 10 vs 15 combined clip. They had Clay Thompson a match with the seniors, freeing Draymond Green to get More in line to defend the Boston stars.

But the only more encouraging development for the Warriors on Sunday was the play of Gary Payton II, who after not seeing the floor in the opener finished Game 2 with seven points, three assists and three rebounds in a 3 for 3. It was +15 in 25 important minutes.

Payton hasn’t played since he fractured his elbow in Game Two of the Conference semifinals against Memphis, and Steve Kerr didn’t think he was ready to go in Game One. Per cent, he showed that he is, without a doubt, healthy enough to be a big part of the rotation going forward.

“I feel normal,” Payton said. “I’m not worried about the elbow, it feels good.”

It’s hard to overstate what a healthy (nest) Payton means to the Golden State. His return could turn this series, which is equally matched, in favor of the Warriors. Its impact is very large. Anyone who has seen the Warriors and Payton play this season knows that this is no exaggeration. His energy, ball pressure, ability to run across the ground and cut to open up space and act as a short-term playmaker (all things he showcased on Sunday) make the Warriors a more dynamic and athletic team.

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Head-to-head, Payton gives Golden State another featured defender for Jason Tatum and Jalen Brown. Payton doesn’t have the size of Draymond Green or Andrew Wiggins, and Tatum was already able to hit some solid jumps over him, but you’re not going to get anything easy on Payton. Golden State would gladly accept Tatum to take as many of these shots as his heart desires:

“I thought it was cool,” Kerr said of Payton. “Defense level, physicality and speed in transformation, it gives us a huge boost.”

Jordan Bull has become a mystery in this series. He acted as a gateway to defense in Game 1 and wasn’t much better in attack. He gave Payton Kerr a replacement for Paul, and in fact, Payton Ball jumped into the rotation in the second half on Sunday. Poole held out almost the entire third quarter, when Golden State, perhaps not coincidentally, converted a two-point lead into a 23-point lead, and I think Payton would have been in the final lineup over Poole had the game been close below the extension.

Again, this changes the equation for the rest of this series. Payton in the closing line-up over Poole leaves the Celtics with only one defender to chase Curry, and we’ll need to stop this dialogue that Curry is kind of a weak link. He’s small, yes, but he’s a good defender. You won’t get cakewalk buckets on it.

Even when he’s playing Poole, Payton provides peripheral support. In Game 1, Poole gets into a Draymond game. Replacing the team’s best defender with the worst is Boston’s bright red hunting license. In Game 2, Payton went in along with Paul, and Greene stayed on the field as well. This maintains Golden State’s defense in combat.

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Payton and Greene can be a dangerous duo. Watch here as Payton muster Tatum before Green flies for the switch, a tag team pressure potion that leads to Doran and Carrie 3 on the other end.

Payton’s most significant extension came in the second quarter. After the Warriors only scored four points in the non-curry minutes, leaving Paul as the sole constructor, Payton led in the 6:57 minute with Golden State dropping by five points. They immediately went for a 10-0 run, which included the sequence above as well as the sequence below, where Payton runs the floor and settles into a gap along the baseline.

These types of bulldozers are huge. Boston’s half-court defense is a nightmare to score against. Golden State wants to have as many transfer opportunities as possible. Shifts create these opportunities, and Payton creates transformations. Prior to his injury, Warriors were generating 3.3 extra turnovers per 100 holdings with Peyton on the ground.

Finally, the Celtics made six turnarounds during Payton’s first half minutes. It directly caused only one of them, but some of its effect, and much of it, is intangible. Payton, like Green, ignites Golden State’s defense only to being. Here he stops Brown and imposes a foul pass.

The good thing about Payton’s injury was that it wasn’t an area that kept him from conditioning. Kerr told reporters that Payton had been on the court for three weeks “going through intense defensive slides, sprinting and a full one-on-one field without using his left arm,” and I saw this level of conditioning on his court immediately after 25 minutes of work, above his playoff average. before injury.

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What was a concern for Kerr was whether Payton would be able to extend his left arm to shoot. It wasn’t great when Payton made two free throws with a back tire, but then buried a 3 corner, a vital shot in Golden State’s attack not only to maintain reasonable spacing, but to make Boston push when they inevitably collapse. Carrie, as I did here:

“I know it was hard for him, he missed his first two free throws, and to go in there after that and take down those three, with very few reps in basketball shootings since that Memphis series, just shows who he is,” Greene said of Payton. “That’s why he’s here, though. Most guys can’t stand this situation, but the GP, he’s strong and he’s built the right way and he’s gone ahead and given us some good minutes tonight.”

Good minutes can be an understatement. I would call them awesome. Going forward, there will be plenty available for Peyton to make his mark on this series.