OAKLAND – A new old face is set to take the court for the Warriors when they make their first Oracle Arena appearance of the season.
Backup center Festus Ezeli, after a 17-month absence, is listed as "probable," but surely will be in uniform and is expected to play against the rival Clippers.
"Probable means he's going to play," coach Steve Kerr said with a smile. "Probable means definite. He's going to get a few minutes, just to start to get some timing and experience. He's feeling pretty good."
Ezeli underwent extensive surgery on his right knee in June 2013 and spent all of last season rehabbing. He was thought to be close to playing in the postseason but did not get there. He was thought to be ready for Summer League in Las Vegas, too, but was sidelined by inflammation in his right leg.
Ezeli opened camp three weeks ago ready to play, only to have the inflammation flare up once more.
After so many false starts and so much near-readiness, maybe this time it's real.
"He has not actually scrimmaged 5-on -5, full-contact, so that's how we're treating tonight," Kerr said. "Give him a few minutes, here and there, see how he responds, but it's the next step."
While the Warriors gain a backup center in Ezeli, they lose backup forward Brandon Rush. The back spasms that limited him during the recently concluded three-game road trip continue to linger and he will join guard Shaun Livingston (recovering from toe surgery).
The Warriors are hopeful Rush and Livingston can return within the next two weeks.
For now, they'll gladly reacquaint themselves with Ezeli – on his 25th birthday.
"I'm happy for him," starting center Andrew Bogut said. "It's been a really tough 16-18 months, for him to come back now and be out on the floor, put everything behind him, it's good."
LINEUP NOTE: Kerr said he expects, once again, to start Harrison Barnes at small forward and bring incumbent starter Andre Iguodala off the bench.
"I may play Andre with a couple different people than he played with last time," Kerr said. "I've got a couple things in mind, rotations that I want to look at with Andre as sort handling the ball and making decisions."
ON COMING HOME: The Warriors have gone 4-2 in their first six preseason games, all away from the Bay Area. After returning early Monday morning – and knowing they won't leave the Bay Area until the season opener Oct. 29 at Sacramento – they embrace the return to Oracle.
"It'll be fun. I've always loved coming to Oracle as an opponent and as a broadcaster," Kerr said. "It's such a great atmosphere; it's electric in there. I think all the guys are looking forward to playing in front of our home crowd again."
INJURY REPORT: Rush (back spasms) and Livingston (right big toe surgery) remain out indefinitely. Ezeli (right shin discomfort) is listed as probable but is expected to play.
PREVIOUSLY: The Warriors on Oct. 7 defeated the Clippers 112-94 in the preseason opener for both teams at Staples Center.