For the second straight game, the Golden State Warriors will be without one of their starters. After Draymond Green was suspended for Game 5 against the Cleveland Cavaliers, Andrew Bogut will miss Game 6 of the 2016 NBA Finals with a knee injury.
Green’s presence was clearly missed Monday as the Cavs kept their title hopes alive with a 15-point victory at Oracle Arena. Golden State struggled when Bogut went down with bone bruises in his knee that will cost him six to eight weeks, ending his season.
“Draymond does a little bit of everything: his playmaking, his rebounding, his communicating and his heart and soul. Obviously, we missed him big time,” Warriors guard Klay Thompson said after Game 5. “…If Bogut is out Thursday, our bigs are just going to have to step up. They’ve been doing it all year.”
Bogut’s biggest impact during the series came in Game 2, when he blocked four shots in the first quarter, helping spark what would become a 110-77 Golden State win. The Warriors suffered without a rim protector in Game 5 as LeBron James and Kyrie Irving continued to score in the paint, totaling 81 points.
But the absence of Bogut is one that the Warriors should be able to recover from. While the betting line dropped 1.5 points when it was announced that Green was suspended for Game 5, the Warriors are two-point underdogs heading into Game 6, just as they were when they last played in Cleveland with a completely healthy team. The Game 6 point spread has shifted from 2.5 points to two points from Tuesday to Wednesday.
Andrew Bogut Update: pic.twitter.com/ObjcC9zsNM
— Warriors PR (@WarriorsPR) June 15, 2016
Aside from his early Game 2 heroics, Bogut hasn’t been much of a factor in the finals. The center hasn’t played more than 15 minutes in a game, and he played just 10 minutes while grabbing no rebounds and failing to score when Golden State won Game 4 on the road. Bogut’s totaled just six points outside of his 10-point performance in Game 1, and the Warriors were outscored by eight points with Bogut on the floor in the series opener. In the 12 minutes Bogut played in Game 3, Golden State was outscored by 21 points.
Without Bogut, Andre Iguodala likely will be inserted into the starting lineup. Golden State’s five-man unit with Green at center and Iguodala at small forward has brought them their most success. Switching to their small “death lineup” is what sealed the finals for the Warriors a year ago. Bogut played just three minutes total in the last three games of the 2015 finals as Golden State beat Cleveland by an average of 14 points.
Cleveland head coach Tyronn Lue insists that Kevin Love will remain in the starting lineup for Game 6, and that could spell trouble for the Cavs. Love has brought little to Cleveland offensively this series, and his inability to defend Golden State’s pick-and-roll with Green at center could prove costly Thursday night.
The biggest problem Golden State will have with Bogut’s injury is what it will do to their depth. Green is averaging 10 minutes of rest per game in the finals, and he can’t play all of his minutes at center. That means more playing time for Festus Ezeli, who has struggled in the playoffs, or Anderson Varejao, who hasn’t played more than 10 minutes in any game this postseason.
Bogut has played a key role in a few of Golden State’s biggest playoff wins. He grabbed 14 rebounds and scored 15 points when the Warriors won Game 5 of the Western Conference finals. The veteran’s other playoff double-double came in Game 1 of the second round, when Golden State defeated the Portland Trail Blazers, despite the absence of Stephen Curry.
With the way the Warriors match up against the Cavs, however, Bogut’s absence might not have much of an impact on Golden State’s chances.
The Warriors went 9-1 without Bogut in the regular season. He hasn't missed a playoff game.
Betting Line: Cavs favored by 2 points
Over/Under: 207.5 points