The Golden State Warriors went into the 2013-14 regular season with the 2014 NBA Playoffs in mind. After the surprise success that they enjoyed in the postseason last year, it seemed only fitting that they would grow and possibly make another run, especially after the addition of Andre Iguodala and having a healthy Andrew Bogut.
Bogut remained healthy for the majority of the regular season, something the Warriors hadn’t enjoyed since he joined them. However, as the postseason begins, Bogut has now succumbed to injury. Dealing with fractured ribs, there’s a good chance that Bogut will miss the entire first round series. This may be jumping the gun, but that spells first-round exit for this team to me.
While the common narrative about the Warriors pretty much revolves around “wow, these guys can shoot threes really well” and an exciting offense, much of their success this season has been derived from their improvements on the defensive end of the floor. Shockingly and relatively quietly, the Warriors have been a top-five defensive team this season. That fact is largely due to that addition of Iguodala and Bogut.
Bogut’s value on the defensive end of the floor is monstrous for the Warriors. You can look at the stats alone and see that the Warriors are 3.1 points per 100 possessions better defensively with Bogut on the floor this season (per 82games.com), but it goes beyond that as well.
While Iguodala helps solidify the Warriors’ often weak perimeter defense, it still doesn’t totally make up for the shortcomings of guys like Stephen Curry on that end of the floor. However, the Warriors’ defense is, in a way, designed to funnel guys into the paint where Bogut can protect the rim. Obviously that’s worked out relatively well for them this season. In the postseason, though, they aren’t going to have that.
When healthy, Jermaine O’Neal has been solid for Golden State this season. However, he’s hardly the rim-protector or defender that Bogut is. The Warriors aren’t going to go quietly the Los Angeles Clippers, but as they try and stop the Clips’ high-powered offensive attack it’s hard to imagine Golden State being able to outlast L.A. The Warriors may have lost in the first round with Bogut, but it seems much more certain now that he’s unavailable.