Warriors' Gary Payton II drilled in the head with stray basketball ahead of Game 3 vs. Celtics

Payton was practicing a drill with head coach Steve Kerr ahead of Game 3 of the NBA Finals against the Boston Celtics when he was drilled in the head by a ball.

It was unclear who threw the basketball, but Kerr’s reaction said it all: “Ouch.” 

Gary Payton II of the Golden State Warriors shoots during 2022 NBA Finals practice and media availability June 7, 2022, at the TD Garden in Boston. 

Gary Payton II of the Golden State Warriors shoots during 2022 NBA Finals practice and media availability June 7, 2022, at the TD Garden in Boston.  (Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)

Payton returned to the playoffs in the Warriors’ Game 2 win over the Celtics. Steph Curry praised him during a press conference Tuesday, calling Payton an “amazing difference-maker.” 

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Stephen Curry, left, and Gary Payton II of the Golden State Warriors celebrate after defeating the Boston Celtics in Game 2 of the 2022 NBA Finals at Chase Center June 5, 2022, in San Francisco. 

Stephen Curry, left, and Gary Payton II of the Golden State Warriors celebrate after defeating the Boston Celtics in Game 2 of the 2022 NBA Finals at Chase Center June 5, 2022, in San Francisco.  ( Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

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“I think fans really resonate with that. They really love the way he approaches the game, his energy,” Curry said. “He changes games without having really crazy scoring outputs … You just get so much energy watching him defend and disrupt and do all that type of stuff.

Jayson Tatum (0) of the Boston Celtics dribbles against Gary Payton II (0) of the Golden State Warriors during the second quarter in Game 2 of the 2022 NBA Finals at Chase Center June 5, 2022, in San Francisco. 

Jayson Tatum (0) of the Boston Celtics dribbles against Gary Payton II (0) of the Golden State Warriors during the second quarter in Game 2 of the 2022 NBA Finals at Chase Center June 5, 2022, in San Francisco.  (Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

“Fans love that, and we love it too as a teammate. So it’s been awesome to watch his growth and development this year.” 

 

The Warriors host the Celtics Wednesday at 9 p.m. ET with the series tied at one game apiece.

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