Not to diminish Bogut’s value to the Warriors, but the real problem for Mark Jackson’s crew in its attempt to upset the Clippers has almost nothing to do with the “fives.” The real problem was spelled out quite clearly Monday night with the “35” next to Blake Griffin’s name in the box score.
Would Bogut have prevented Griffin from dominating in the paint as he did? No. The Clippers — specifically, Doc Rivers, one of the most underrated coaches in the league’s history — are a clever lot, and the adjustments they made between Games 1 and 2 suggested that it wouldn’t be all that difficult for them to come up with a way to make sure Bogut’s defensive impact vis-a-vis Griffin could be minimized.
The problem is this: Griffin, especially when he’s hitting jump shots, is one of only a handful of players in the NBA who will be getting his regardless. Those 35 points he dropped on the Dubs, remember, came in about three quarters of play.
It’s not easy to do, because he’s a hard guy to like on the court, what with the whining and flopping and such, but you have to put Griffin in the LeBron/Durant/Kobe category right now. If he’s healthy and hot, he’s going to beat you. His athleticism and strength are too varied, too overwhelming, too ... holy crap, I had no idea he’d gotten this good.
Warriors fans can delude themselves all they want by pointing to Game 1, and the seemingly respectable job that David Lee did on Griffin in the second half, as a means to maligning Griffin’s growing status among the game’s elite. Truth is, Lee didn’t slow down Griffin. Foul trouble slowed Griffin. Before the foul trouble, Lee was as overmatched and ineffective as he was Monday night.
The concern shouldn’t necessarily be to slow Griffin, anyway. Again, he’s going to get his, and probably even if the jumper isn’t going down. No jumper? Fine, he’ll jump over you, muscle around you, or first-step you to the curb on the way to a freaky reverse.
What Lee needs to concern himself with is at least offsetting some of the damage Griffin does by doing some offensive damage of his own. If he really wants to shed that unfair label of being a guy who puts up largely empty double-doubles, now is the optimum time to do it.
What can we make of that oddly disparate split in L.A.? Not much outside the fact that when your skinny star scorer is the only one standing up for your skinny star scorer, it’s a bad look. Steph Curry deserves better than what he got, and maybe that’s where Bogut would have made his presence truly felt. Matt Barnes needed a forearm to the back of the head, and Bogut would have suited nicely in that regard.
But he would not have stopped Griffin, and there doesn’t appear to be anyone on Golden State’s roster who can. If that man is picking and popping, the Warriors will be dropping — and soon.
Mychael Urban, a longtime Bay Area-based sportswriter and broadcaster, is the host of “Inside the Bigs,” which airs every Saturday morning from 9 a.m. to noon on The Game (95.7 FM).