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In pregame of their matchup against the Dallas Mavericks, head coach Steve Kerr expressed optimistic news with regards to Gary Payton II’s status.

Kerr told reporters that Payton II’s recovery is “going well” and they hope that he’ll be on the Dubs hardwood “before too long” (h/t The San Francisco Chronicle’s C.J. Holmes). The veteran, who was announced having good progress in his right aductor healing last Mar. 14, hasn’t played a game yet for the Warriors this season since being traded back by the Portland Trail Blazers last trade deadline.

Meanwhile, star forward Andrew Wiggins remains unavailable without a specific timetable of return. He is reportedly addressing a family matter.

“Those two guys were really key players for us during the championship run a year ago,” Kerr said. “You can feel it. We can feel it. A lot of these games where we’re a little short defensively — literally and figuratively. So to get a couple of guys back who can help us take our defense to another notch, if we can get to that stage, get into the playoffs, give ourselves a chance.”

As two of the reliable perimeter defensive units of the Warriors from their last title run, both Wiggins and Payton II have been integral on Kerr’s system. Their absence severely put painful dent on Golden State’s defensive rating that ranks 19th in the league (114.9).

With eight games left to their season, the Warriors are certainly hoping that Wiggins and Payton II will be availabe soon to help them defend their title.

“We just won a title last year, so we know what we’re capable of. But we have to get there, and we’re in a dogfight with a lot of teams just trying to get there.”