Friday, September 22 2023

The Golden State Warriors will begin their playoff quest to repeat as champions by welcoming back a key player to the rotation in Game 1 against the Sacramento Kings.

Andrew Wiggins has been cleared to play in the opening game of the first-round series, The Athletic reported Thursday. Golden State is “leaning” toward having Wiggins play off the bench for 20-to-25 minutes in Saturday’s game, The Athletic added in its report.

Saturday’s Game 1 will mark the first time Wiggins has played in a game since Feb. 13. The forward has been out of the lineup since the All-Star break ended and was away from the team until the beginning of April to tend to a family matter. Wiggins ended up missing the Warriors’ final 25 games, in which they went 15-10.

Prior to taking a leave of absence, Wiggins was one of Golden State’s more consistent players. He averaged 17.1 points per game while shooting 47.3% from the field and a career-best 39.6% from 3-point range,. He also contributed five rebounds and 2.3 assists per game during the regular season.

Wiggins was arguably the Warriors’ most important player outside of Steph Curry during their playoff run to a title last season. While he scored just 16.5 points per game during the playoffs, Wiggins was credited for slowing down Jayson Tatum in the NBA Finals against the Celtics.

Golden State’s defense of its title has been rocky, at least in the regular season. The Warriors had to claw their way up the standings late in the season to avoid the play-in tournament because of their poor road record (11-30) and injuries to multiple key players. They eventually made their way to sixth in the Western Conference standings, finishing with a 44-38 record as they might be the healthiest they’ve been since they re-acquired Gary Payton II at the trade deadline. 

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