Stephen Curry and Draymond Green are likely to play in their team’s highly anticipated tilt with the league-leading Boston Celtics. Don’t take too much from Saturday’s rematch of the 2022 NBA Finals, though. The Golden State Warriors will be missing another indispensable piece of their championship puzzle.
Steve Kerr announced before Wednesday’s game against the Utah Jazz that Andrew Wiggins will be sidelined through Saturday’s matchup with the Celtics, his nagging right adductor strain set to be reevaluated next Monday.
Wiggins didn’t play in the Warriors’ stunning loss to the Indiana Pacers and is also out for Wednesday’s game in Salt Lake City. The prevailing assumption was that he’d be back in the lineup for Saturday’s litmus test against Boston, like Curry and Green sitting out versus the Jazz to avoid more wear and tear of minor injuries before a crucial early-season battle between title contenders.
Kerr said he’s “hopeful” Curry and Green will play against the Celtics.
There’s no indication that Wiggins’ adductor strain is of the serious variety. Odds are he’ll be back at some point next week barring a setback between now and his reevaluation on Monday. But as Monday’s defeat to the short-handed laid bare, Golden State is a much different team on both sides of the ball without Wiggins, who’s emerged as a plus-minus darling in 2022-23 while taking his game to new heights offensively.
His biggest impact last June, though, came on the other side of the ball, and that’s where the Warriors will miss Wiggins most against Boston.
Joe Mazzulla’s team sports the league’s best offense this season, with Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown both leveling up as individual scorers and playmakers. Malcolm Brogdon’s addition has given the Celtics another dangerous spot-up shooter, secondary ball handler and straight-line driver. Boston is playing with more verve and continuity on that end than it ever showed with a championship on the line.
Golden State wouldn’t have beaten Boston in the Finals without Wiggins’ suffocating Tatum one-on-one. He’s clearly the Warriors’ best option on Brown, too, a consequence of letting Gary Payton II walk in free agency. Expect Golden State to alter its defensive scheme on Saturday without Wiggins, perhaps switching across five positions and loading toward the ball when Tatum and Brown have mismatches.
Either way, Saturday’s matchup loses some of its luster without Wiggins. He’s as pivotal to the Warriors’ success against Boston as any player but Curry.
Impactful as his absence will be, at least Andrew Wiggins seems on track to return soon.