Gary Payton II

Payton views Warriors' NBA In-Season Tournament games as ‘money time'

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Gary Payton II has his eyes on the bag.

The Warriors guard knows his team has a chance to earn a major payday in the inaugural NBA In-Season Tournament, and Golden State inched closer to that goal with a 118-112 victory over the San Antonio Spurs on Friday night at Chase Center.

"It's technically money time, so we can't afford to give up any of these [games]," Payton told reporters after the penultimate game of the tournament's group play stage. "We've got to have 'em. So, tonight was pretty big. Everybody had their [antennae] up and [was] active and causing havoc.

"We knew our backs [were] against the wall, so we went out to try to compete for the money."

Entering Friday's game, the Warriors were fighting to stay alive in the tournament's West Group C amid multiple elimination scenarios. It was a must-win game, and Payton's energy on the floor in his return from injury helped Golden State earn it. Now, the Warriors remain in the hunt for the In-Season tournament's prize money.

Each player on the tournament's winning team will receive $500,000, while the runners-up will get $200,000. The losing players of the semifinals each will earn $100,000, and the losing players of the quarterfinals will receive $50,000. For some players, that's a significant check.

"We just know when that court's different, it's money time," Payton said. "I think a few of our guys -- and especially our young guys -- it'll help out our young guys and our two-ways, so try to lock in and bring it home."

After Friday's win, the Warriors (2-1) trail only the Sacramento Kings (3-0) in the Group C standings and have the same record as the Minnesota Timberwolves (2-1). One of those three teams will win Group C and advance to the In-Season Tournament quarterfinals, as the Oklahoma City Thunder (1-2) and Spurs (0-4) are eliminated.

That makes the Warriors' In-Season Tournament game against the Kings on Tuesday incredibly important, and Payton expects a "rowdy" crowd at Golden 1 Center. There's a chance the winner of the Group C bracket could be the winning team in Sacramento that night via several scenarios, and point differential plays a major role in the eventual standings.

Warriors coach Steve Kerr said that was on his mind in Friday night's win.

"We're trying to advance, so we talked about it in the timeout," Kerr told reporters. "Five minutes left, I think we were up 12, and I reminded them, 'Let's keep our foot on the gas.' "

"Obviously, it didn't work, though," he concluded, after Golden State's sloppy play to end the victory.

Golden State needs a 13-point win over Sacramento on Tuesday, along with an OKC win over Minnesota the same night, to advance. If the Timberwolves win, the Warriors need at least a 13-point win over the Kings to force a three-way tie.

The Warriors certainly had the tournament on their mind in Friday night's win, and another focused victory next week will bring them one step closer to securing the bag in the In-Season Tournament quarterfinals.

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