Draymond Green played incredible defense on Friday night, and as Tim Kawakami points out, the sheer volume of numbers Green contributes nightly makes his absence a huge one for the Warriors tonight. And that’s saying nothing about Green’s tenacity and emotional energy, which the Warriors will only feel during Game 5 if it somehow travels through concrete walls, over from the Coliseum next door where Green will spend the evening in a suite during tonight’s game between the A’s and Rangers.
We know the team’s other All-Stars, Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, must carry an even larger load than usual. The Warriors will also need contributions from role players, like Mo Speights, Leandro Barbosa, Shaun Livingston, and maybe even Brandon Rush and James Michael McAdoo. The good news there is a lot of those guys, Speights especially, are more comfortable at Oracle Arena. And the crowd should be insane tonight, especially when LeBron James’ name is mentioned and any time he touches the ball.
The Warriors have only played one game without Green all season, a 112-110 loss in Denver on Jan. 13. The starting lineup included Rush and Jason Thompson, who only stayed with the Warriors for another six weeks or so. Harrison Barnes came off the bench and played 31 minutes. Curry scored 38 points to lead four Warriors in double figures. The others were Barnes (18 points), Thompson (17) and …
Bogut went 7-for-8 and scored 15 points. He also had seven rebounds and blocked three shots. And, for a variety of reasons, he’s the key to the Warriors’ chances of clinching back-to-back titles without having to travel back for Game 6 in Cleveland.
The Warriors’ “Death Lineup” center is unavailable, so Kerr has a few options. He can play Barnes at center, where he’ll get outrebounded by any center the Cavs choose other than Channing Frye. He can play Speights at center, which can work fairly well in Oakland for brief stretches, but Kerr has to be mindful of Speights’ questionable stamina. His other options are McAdoo, Festus Ezeli (who could be a potential x-factor, although Kerr doesn’t seem to trust him), or lots and lots of Bogut.
Tyronn Lue seems like the kind of coach who’d respond to Green’s absence by going big, with Tristan Thompson, Kevin Love and James on the floor at the same time. This isn’t a great strategy (tonight is the time for Lue to go back to the small lineup that the Cavs used to great effect in the playoffs before the Finals), but that probably won’t stop him.
This is the perfect confluence of factors for Bogut to have a great performance. He’s at the point where he can’t expend massive amounts of energy every single game, but he’s shown flashes of greatness during the playoffs. And they’ve mostly come at home.
- Bogut’s averages through 12 home playoff games: 18.2 mpg, 5.6 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 1.7 bpg, +66
- Bogut’s averages through 9 road playoff games: 15.4 mpg, 3.8 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 1.3 bpg,-22
- Bogut’s four double-digit scoring games during the playoffs all came at home. His two doule-digit rebounding games came at home. Three of his four highest block totals came at home, including 5 in 15 minutes against the Cavs in Game 2.
This is the perfect scenario for Bogut, who generally has two types of games: great ones, and others that are almost wholly unproductive. His team really needs him tonight, especially on defense. Along with the rest of his teammates, he can stick up for a teammate they feel was unfairly railroaded due to league politics and James’ cynical, tattling ways. If Bogut plays the game of his life, the traveling is over, he asserts his value on the team and within the NBA at large, and his summer starts tonight under a splendid champagne shower.