Assuming they’re able to persevere in a Sunday bout with the Houston Rockets (3-13), the Golden State Warriors (7-9) will be presented with a golden opportunity the following night. Specifically, they’ll have the chance to get back to .500 for the first time in more than three weeks.
In any other year, that wouldn’t be anything to write home about. With the team potentially staring the end of its dynasty run square in the face, however, evening out that win-loss record feels like a must.
Completing the task is hardly a given, though. When the Dubs dropped a game to the then one-win Orlando Magic on November 3 despite getting 66 combined points out of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, they proved that they can be beaten by anyone on a given night, including the lottery-chasing Rockets.
Not only that — in order to get 9-9 on Monday night, they’ll have to beat a well-rested New Orleans Pelicans team (9-7) that has already beaten them once this season. And they’ll have to defeat them despite the fact that a certain former No. 1 overall pick will probably be back on the court.
Zion Says He’ll Be Back for Warriors Game
Pelicans big man Zion Williamson has missed his team’s last three games after suffering a right foot contusion on November 12 against the aforementioned Rockets. But the 2021 NBA All-Star is confident that he’ll be in uniform and available when Stephen Curry and Co. make their second and final trip to the Smoothie King Center.
“As of now I can say I’m definitely playing Monday,” Williamson said following the Pels’ Saturday practice. “I don’t see why I wouldn’t at this point. Had enough time off it. The pain seems to be gone at this point.”
This isn’t just wishful thinking on Williamson’s part, either. Pelicans coach Willie Green indicated that the baller participated in all aspects of the light session on Saturday, adding that the activity level would be ramped up ahead of the Warriors game.
“He went through all of our drills, all of our work, got some work in the weight room,” Green said. “We’ll have more of a sharper practice tomorrow and get ready for Monday’s game. Excited to have him back.”
Williamson noted that his foot was “feeling a lot better” after going through practice.
In 11 appearances this season, the former Duke standout is averaging 23.5 points, 6.4 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 1.1 steals while shooting 56.6% from the field. Meanwhile, New Orleans has been 2.7 points per 100 possessions better when he has been on the floor.
Williamson’s Track Record Against Golden State
When NOLA and Golden State last met on November 4, Williamson had one of his quietest nights of the new campaign (so far). In a season-low 28 minutes on the floor, he scored 16 points — another season-low — on 7-of-11 shooting while adding three rebounds, an assist and a steal.
On the whole, though, he’s been solid against the Warriors. Across four career bouts with GSW — three of which were taken by the Pels — Williamson has averaged 24.8 points, 7.5 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.3 steals while connecting on 56.6% of his field-goal attempts.