Golden State Warriors' Zaza Pachulia, David West expected to return Thursday against Los Angeles Clippers
JANIE McCAULEY | Associated Press
OAKLAND, Calif. — The Golden State Warriors are preparing to get some reinforcements for Thursday night’s home game against the Clippers, with center Zaza Pachulia and David West expected to play.
While both were still listed as questionable Wednesday, coach Steve Kerr said he plans to use them as long as they have no issues after having gone through a full practice and scrimmaging.
“They both looked great,” Kerr said. “I would say there’s a good chance both of them would play tomorrow.”
Pachulia has missed the last eight games with a strained rotator cuff in his right shoulder sustained when diving for a ball at Portland on Jan. 29. He received a platelet-rich plasma injection in the shoulder in Los Angeles when the team traveled to Memphis and offered a shoutout to the Warriors’ training staff for canceling any All-Star break plans to stay with him and help in his rehab.
“We spent a lot of time here, so I’m thankful to them and that’s why I’m kind of ready to go now,” said Pachulia, now pain-free after he was still sore before the All-Star game. “It’s about being smart right now. One of the advantages being part of this team, coaching staff and front office, they understand. Coach Kerr has played in this game, so he knows perfectly now what a player needs. He told me to take off the remaining games … and the All-Star break together and make sure I’m ready for the second half of the season.”
West suffered a non-displaced fracture in his left thumb Jan. 18 against Oklahoma City and was scheduled for one more X-ray on Wednesday afternoon before being fully cleared for game action, Kerr said.
“We hated to see Zaza and David West get injured but it’s a blessing, right, sometimes you get guys that can step up,” guard Shaun Livingston said. “(Kevon) Looney, Mac (James Michael McAdoo), guys played important roles. Come playoffs now they have confidence in themselves and the coaching staff has confidence in them to throw them into a high-intense situation and trust those guys. So it makes us deeper in a sense where we get better.”
Pachulia is likely to return to the starting center role, if not immediately then soon. Kerr likes the rotation and the way he plays with All-Stars Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson – and those four all had the day off Wednesday to extend their break after playing in Sunday’s All-Star Game at New Orleans.
Kerr will be thrilled to have both big men back and available given the upcoming schedule, which he considers the toughest of his career.
“The numbers matter, we need the depth because if it allows us to rest a guy here or there then we’re more able to do so and still be competitive,” Kerr said.
After hosting Brooklyn on Saturday, Golden State plays eight games in 13 days with a cross-country trip, return for a home game then a back-to-back March 10 at Minnesota and March 11 at San Antonio.
“We have the most insane schedule seen in all my years in the NBA coming up,” Kerr said. “Five-game trip back East, come home for one, fly to Minnesota and then have a back-to-back in San Antonio. Here you go, Golden State, here’s your marquee game against the Spurs on a Saturday night on ABC and it’ll be your eighth game in 12 days with 10,000 miles. It’s insane, so I’ve got to be very, very careful about our players’ welfare and make sure they’re fresh and not too fatigued. Because we know that can lead to injury.”