SAN FRANCISCO — Chris Paul and Andrew Wiggins are expected to play Wednesday against the Portland Trail Blazers, Warriors coach Steve Kerr said.
Paul, 38, sat out the Warriors’ last two games against the Los Angeles Clippers with a left leg nerve contusion that sidelined him early in the Warriors’ meltdown loss to the Sacramento Kings last week. Wiggins, 28, sat out the two Clippers games after slamming his index finger in a car door on Thursday morning.
Both came out unscathed after a Tuesday practice, which included a light scrimmage, Kerr said.
The Warriors split their two-game home-and-home series with Clippers, their loss in Los Angeles the product of a blown 22-point lead in the second half. But in Paul, Wiggins and Gary Payton II’s injury absences emerged an opportunity for bench players who’d fallen out of the rotation to shine.
Payton is out with a strained calf suffered in Sacramento until at least Thursday, though his absence could be longer.
The returns of Wiggins and Paul mean an imminent rotation crunch. Kerr wouldn’t reveal who would be riding the bench against Portland, but Moses Moody and Brandin Podziemski were out of the rotation with a fully healthy team against the Kings and were tapped back in when teammates started falling.
“That’s what we are facing tomorrow. Everybody’s healthy, then it’s just math,” Kerr said. “Not everyone is going to be happy and that’s just the way it goes. We’ll adapt and have our rotation. Who knows how it plays out? Someone may trip on a banana tomorrow. So until we have to make a decision, we won’t make one.”
Who will be benched isn’t an easy decision. The rookie Podziemski and Moody have thrived in their minutes throughout the year and especially of late, injecting much-needed youth and athleticism edge to their lineups. Notably, the Warriors have outscored their opponents by 46 total points in Podziemski’s 262 minutes.
Paul leads the team with a plus-51 in his 483 minutes and his 7.3 assists per game. He was settling into a scoring rhythm before his injury, upping his average to 8.9 points per game and shooting 40% from the field. Wiggins has struggled all season, but got injured coming off one of his best games against the Kings in which he scored 29 points shooting an efficient 11-for-18 with 10 rebounds.