When word surfaced Tuesday night that the Warriors’ newest starter, Gary Payton II, had fractured his left elbow while trying to break his fall after a Flagrant 2 foul from Memphis’ Dillon Brooks in Game 2, the assumption was Payton was done for the season. That may not be the case. Though an MRI on Wednesday revealed Payton suffered ligament damage in addition to the fracture, Payton is out for at least three weeks and “has not ruled out a return in the NBA Finals,” per The Athletic.
The team announced Thursday Payton will be reevaluated in two weeks.
Of course, the Warriors would have to make it to the Finals to even give Payton the chance to return. They’re currently tied 1-1 with the Grizzlies in the conference semis, and this series has all the makings of a long fight. Brooks’ reckless foul on Payton only upped the emotions involved.
“That wasn’t physical. That was dirty,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said of Brooks’ foul during a TNT interview between the first and second quarter. After the game, Kerr went after Brooks even more. “The line is pretty clear. You don’t hit a guy when he’s in midair, club him and break his elbow. That’s where the line is.”
Just seconds after Payton’s injury, Warriors forward Draymond Green went to the locker room with a bloody face after catching an elbow from Grizzlies big man Xavier Tillman.
The physicality of Game 2 was especially notable given what transpired in Sunday’s Game 1 when Green was ejected in the second quarter after a controversial Flagrant 2 foul on Brandon Clarke.
If the first two games are any indication, this is going to be an incredibly physical and fiery series. It will be up to both teams to make sure they maintain their cool with a trip to the Western Conference finals on the line.
Courtesy: CBS Sports