Steve Kerr ‘anticipates’ Gary Payton II plays Game 2 of NBA Finals

SAN FRANCISCO – Gary Payton II’s long-awaited return from his fractured left elbow nearly five weeks ago very-well could come to an end Sunday night at Chase Center in Game 2 of the NBA Finals against the Boston Celtics.

“It’s literally been a day-to-day thing,” Kerr said Sunday to reporters. “He’s made some improvement the last couple of days and I anticipate getting him out there tonight.”

Payton has been out since sustaining his injury in Game 2 of the Western Conference semifinals on May 3. He has missed the Warriors’ last 10 games, though he was active to open the Finals. However, his availability was only for special circumstances like a late-game defensive stop.

That situation never came to fruition in the Warriors’ 120-108 loss.

Though Payton is known more for his defense, he was 16-for-22 from the field and 6-for-8 on 3-pointers in his first six playoff games before being shelved. The big question for the left-hander has been if he’s able to shoot. Kerr says he’d be comfortable if Payton let it fly, and he did only once in front of the media Saturday during practice.

He didn’t seem to miss a beat.

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Payton on Saturday also said that he isn’t feeling any discomfort in his left elbow and hasn’t been forced to make any changes to his shooting mechanics.

“No, same as it always was,” Payton said. “Just been soreness and stuff for the last few weeks. But like I said, we got a couple more games, so I’ll figure it out. I’m ready to go.”

Even if it’s only for short stints, Payton being back on the floor could be a big boost for the Warriors as they look to even the series up before it moves to Boston. His impact is even more needed with Andre Iguodala being ruled out for Game 2 with right knee inflammation.

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