The Golden State Warriors 2013 first round playoff victory against the Denver Nuggets will in all likelihood be remembered as the series that Stephan Curry took over and won for the Warriors. While it is true that Curry’s play was the catalyst to the Warriors victory, they could not have done it without center Andrew Bogut.
Bogut, who was an impact player in the paint for years with the Milwaukee Bucks, earned All-NBA third team honors in 2010. However, because of injuries to his elbow and ankle he has missed 120 games over the past two years, which has made him a forgotten man.
This was noted by Nuggets coach George Karl in his press conference after Game six, where he stated “He had forgotten how good Bogut is.” For Warriors fans, what Karl had forgotten is something they may have never known or even cared about because of All-Star forward David Lee’s play in the paint and the Warriors’ 47 wins this season. All of that was done mostly without Bogut, who appeared in only 30 games.
A short-handed Chicago Bulls squad fell at home to the Brooklyn Nets on Thursday to set up Saturday’s Game 7 at the Barclays Center. With the status of two starters still up in the air, the Bulls face an uphill battle on the road if they hope to advance to the Eastern Conference semis.
For Chicago to pull out the win, Tom Thibodeau will need his team to follow these four steps:
1. Let Nate be Nate
Nate Robinson can be an immensely frustrating player for a coach. He’s so emotion-driven that bad shots and bad fouls are just part of the package when he’s put in a significant role.
However, Robinson’s scoring has saved the Bulls throughout this series, and Chicago can’t hope to get enough offense to win without another big game from the little point guard. Thibodeau will need to show patience with Robinson’s antics in order to reap the benefits of his explosive three-point shooting.
2. Get as much as possible from Luol Deng and Kirk Hinrich
The Los Angeles Clippers beat the Memphis Grizzlies in a hard fought seventh game during the first round of the 2012 NBA playoffs. The Clippers went on to the second round of the playoffs which was unchartered waters for the Clipper organization. In the second round of the 2012 NBA playoffs, the Clippers were swept by arguably the most seasoned “Big Boy” team in the NBA, the San Antonio Spurs.
The Memphis Grizzlies, came oh so, close to realizing a second round milestone for their organization but they lost to the Clippers in the 1st round of the 2012 NBA Playoff. Despite the loss Memphis did gain some valuable experience that would motivate them going into their 2012-2013 NBA regular season.
It was almost too good to be true wasn't it?
Looking for their first Playoff series win in 13 years, the New York Knicks appeared to be in cruise control. After all, no team in NBA history has ever come back from a 3-0 deficit and emerged victorious in a seven game series.
However, as every Knicks fan knows, nothing is ever quite that simple.
The Boston Celtics are a team of savvy veterans who realise they don't have many more chances at glory. Their aging stars have perhaps this year and next to add to their ring collection and being 3-0 down in the series was not part of the script. They felt that they had a legitimate chance of taking this Playoff series into it's twilight and it was surprising to see them down down and deflated. With big characters like Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce leading the way, that atmosphere was never going to stay around for long. They are born winners, future hall-of-fame inductees and their will to win is legendary. They knew that the odds were stacked against them at 3-0 and that's just the way they like it.
Slowly but surely, they fought their way back.
Injuries have often adversely affected teams with a realistic chance of winning an NBA championship. Most notably in recent history, between 2009 and 2012 the Boston Celtics suffered injuries to key players that greatly decreased their probability of winning championships. Likewise the Chicago Bulls lost Derrick Rose to injury in Game one of their 2012 Eastern Conference Quarter-final series against the Philadelphia 76ers which essentially killed any chance they had of winning a title last season.
This trend has continued in the 2013 postseason, with the Golden State Warriors losing All-Star forward David Lee and the Oklahoma City Thunder losing All-Star point guard Russell Westbrook for the duration of the year. Granted, even with Lee the Warriors were not considered a serious contender to win this year’s championship. But, should they be able to defeat the Denver Nuggets in the first round, losing Lee will make it extremely difficult for them to defeat the Spurs in the second round or any opponent in the Conference or NBA Finals.