MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The Warriors can see the end of their woeful injury situation, at least the worst of it.
Even though centers Andris Biedrins and Ronny Turiaf are still about a "week away or so," according to coach Don Nelson, their presence in practice the past couple days has provided the team a sense of relief.
"It was good seeing (Biedrins) get up and run, a little contact," said guard Monta Ellis, who added that he will play tonight against the Memphis Grizzlies despite a contusion on his thigh that kept him out of practice Sunday and Monday. "That's a plus for us. That means he's on the way back. Same for Ronny. We need those two big guys. We're short-handed, and that's going to turn our team around."
Biedrins said he just needs to get a few practices under his belt. He is not expected to play tonight or Wednesday at New Orleans but said he is eyeing Saturday's home game against the Phoenix Suns.
Biedrins hasn't played since Nov. 8 at Sacramento, the fifth game of the season. He was injured against the Grizzlies on Nov. 4, sat out the next game and returned against Sacramento. But he aggravated the injury against the Kings.
Biedrins' injury eventually was diagnosed as osteitis pubis, a strain of the muscles that connect the abdomen and the quadriceps. The Warriors announced the injury would take six weeks to heal, and Monday marked the six-week point of Biedrins' absence. He said he is being extra cautious,
"It's feeling good," Biedrins said after Sunday's practice. "Conditioning-wise, I'm not bad. I will start slow, maybe 10, 15 minutes a game, and we'll just go from there."
Turiaf hasn't played since Nov. 28 against the Los Angeles Lakers, his first game back after straining his left knee against Phoenix in the second game of the season.
Nelson already has started to get his players prepared for the return of the team's top two centers. He said the Warriors will go to a more traditional style of play, with several players returning to their natural positions.
Anthony Randolph will play power forward, and Corey Maggette and Vladimir Radmanovic will get minutes at small forward. Ellis and Anthony Morrow will defend guards instead of forwards.
Nelson also put in some sets involving his big men. The presence of Biedrins and Turiaf puts two of the Warriors' best finishers at the rim, giving Nelson the option of using Biedrins to slip to the basket off a pick-and-roll. Such options have been noticeably absent.
"That's what we thought we were going to have at the beginning of the season," Nelson said. "It's all been postponed until a week from now or thereabouts. After 30 games, we're going to have to grow into the team that we're going to be. Hopefully, we can stay healthy the rest of the year and play that way and be more consistent."