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January 22, 2023

The Golden State Warriors and their fans are still feeling the shock of the fourth quarter blitz the Boston Celtics inflicted on them in Thursday’s 120-108 loss in Game 1 of the 2022 NBA Finals. Boston beat the Warriors 40 -16 in the last frame, while breaking an NBA-record nine 3-pointers.

The Warriors’ defense was solid for most of the night — especially against Celtics forward Jayson Tatum, who was limited to 12 points on 3-for-17 shooting — but the fourth-quarter barrage was as much the product of the Golden State poor. defense as it was hot shooting Boston. Celtics winger Jaylen Brown was able to drive into the lane, causing the defense to collapse and creating open shots.

NBA legend and 75th Anniversary Team member Gary Payton, who spoke to CBS Sports on Friday in a video interview, has a pretty clear idea of ​​how the Warriors can fix their defensive issues for the game. Sunday 2: Play his son, Gary Payton II. Young Payton has been a defensive mainstay for the Warriors all season, and he’s been listed as available for Game 1 for the first time since fracturing his left elbow early in the Western Conference Semifinals. . Despite being available, Payton II sat out Thursday’s opener, confusing his father.

“They shouldn’t say he’s available. If you think he’s not ready, then don’t write ‘available,’ just put him in street clothes,” Payton told CBS Sports. “Why did he get dressed? I don’t understand that one. It’s a mystery to me, but it’s their decision.

“…I’m glad he had the opportunity and the chance to step onto this stage. Now the Golden State Warriors coaching staff has the opportunity to make the decision to put him in the game. They’ve only got a few left. Just put it in. …He’s been doing it for you all year.

Warriors coach Steve Kerr said Saturday that he and the coaching staff did not feel comfortable with Payton II playing long minutes in Game 1 at this stage of his recovery. If a situation arose where the Warriors needed a defensive stop, Kerr might have turned to Payton II, but things didn’t work out that way. For Game 2, however, Kerr said he expected Payton II to be available for more playing time while adding “he feels better”.

The elder Payton has plenty of NBA Finals experience. His Seattle SuperSonics took Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls to six games in the 1996 Finals, and he won a championship at age 37 with the Miami Heat in 2006. Former Defensive Player of the Year, Payton believes his son can play an important role in limiting the Celtics’ offense.

“[Payton II] could have an impact like [Marcus] Smart did it when he hit [Stephen] Curry. He tried to get Curry out of his game, so he did. He started putting more pressure on him. I think you need to put more pressure on Brown, Tatum,” Payton told CBS Sports. “You need to make Brown stop breaking in and doing the things that he’s going to do. You have to put someone in there.”

Payton II had become a vital part of the Warriors rotation this postseason, earning a starting role in the first two games of the Memphis Grizzlies series, but was injured after a hard fall that resulted in a flagrant foul on Dillon Brooks in Game 2. The play earned Brooks an ejection and a one-game suspension, while creating talk about whether he was dirty. Kerr fanned the flames of controversy after the game by saying Brooks “broke the code” with the hard foul. The elder Payton, who thrived in the tough, physical basketball of the 1990s and early 2000s, doesn’t see it that way.

“It’s a basketball game. People need to relax. It’s just basketball, you know what I mean? He didn’t come out and say, ‘I’m going to hurt him. I didn’t do that.” Payton told CBS Sports. “Now it would have been a different story if he had pushed him out of mid-air and made it obvious he was trying to hurt him. The young boy was trying to play a basketball game. He messed up and jumped too late, hit my son in the head. And what people don’t understand is that my son didn’t land properly. It just didn’t land properly. It was just a freak accident.

Even though his elbow isn’t fully healed, Payton II should be able to make a significant defensive impact. But offensively, especially with the Celtics likely to sag on him, he needs to be able to make them pay. Payton II has become a 39% 3-point shooter this season and is 4-6 from corners this playoff. He needs to be able to knock them down, and that can be difficult if his shooting elbow isn’t quite right yet.

Whether or not Payton II’s elbow is fully healed, it certainly looks like there’s a good shot we’ll see him in Game 2, and he’ll be a welcome addition to a Golden State roster facing what amounts to an unmissable match on Sunday.

“The fact that he’s available, I know he has to be ready because his number can be called anytime,” Curry said of Payton II on Saturday. “He’s got to become the generalist that we know. He can affect this streak the same way. Keeping Jaylen, keeping Jayson, keeping Marcus, keeping whoever he’s being asked to keep and giving us a huge boost, because that’s what he does.”


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