For most of the season, the Golden State Warriors have been able to count on Gary Payton II for a steady supply of dunks, corner threes, and steals, particularly at the end of quarters. But for the last three weeks, he’s been out nursing a knee injury, and it’s no coincidence that the Dubs have had some of their worst defensive performances of the year during that stretch. Tonight, Young Glove is back to face the Orlando Magic.
Gary Payton II will return for the Warriors tomorrow in Orlando. Not listed on the injury report. Moses Moody is questionable. Andrew Wiggins is probable.— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) March 21, 2022
Moody remains questionable due to a “shoulder subluxation” - basically, his shoulder popped out Wednesday and they shoved it back in. Presumably Wiggins is probably due to his recent illness, but he looked pretty healthy Sunday, aside from a key free throw with seconds remaining.
The Warriors have missed the defensive presence of Payton, specifically at the point-of-attack on offense, where guards like Dejounte Murray, Monte Morris, and even Russell Westbrook have tormented them recently. With Draymond Green back, the Warriors now have their two best defenders back, and if Wiggins is indeed back, the team looks much more like the squad that’s led the NBA in defensive rating most of the season.
On a brutal road trip featuring five games in seven nights (thank you, NCAA Tournament for occupying the Chase Center all weekend), Golden State needs all the bodies they can get. Particularly with Klay Thompson resting on at least one if not both back-to-backs on the trip, Payton’s ball pressure - and dunks! - will be a welcome sight in Orlando. As for Moses Moody, rub some dirt on that shoulder, buddy, and get well soon.