Andrew Bogut does it again

Another standout performance from Bogut (+17 plus-minus), but his defense in particular was incredible. He dominated the boards again (18 rebounds), kept the Spurs out of the paint – usually their bread and butter – and put the clamps on Timmy D.

Bogut sat for most of the first half with foul trouble and Duncan took advantage with 14 points, but he returned to play 22 minutes in the second half and overtime and during that span Duncan went 2-12 for just 5 points at -25 plus-minus. He shut down the Hall of Famer.

One play in particular highlighted Bogut’s importance. With just over a minute to go in regulation and the Spurs up by two, Duncan isolated in the post against Bogut and went to his patented drop-step move, Bogut blocked it, Duncan then regathered and attempted a second shot which Bogut contested, he missed and Bogut grabbed the board and in the next possession Jarrett Jack hit the game tying jumper. As usual Jack gets the headlines for scoring the bucket, but it was Bogut who did the heavy lifting in a critical possession.

The accolades aren’t always there, but for me it’s cut and dried – Andrew Bogut’s defense is the key reason why the Golden State Warriors are only two wins away from reaching the Western Conference Finals (crazy!!). With all due respect to Steph Curry – he’s a phenomenal player – take Bogut off this team (leaving Ezeli and Biedrins to man the middle) and they’re not even here; they capitulate on the inside and get smoked by Denver in the first round.

Hubie Brown said it best in the dying minutes of the game: “You gotta like him alright, mainly because they need him. His presence has changed the whole personality of this game.” Hubie, as usual you nailed it.

While we’re on the Warriors, how impressive has the rookie Harrison Barnes been? He’s only 20 years old but he already possesses a man’s game – he can shoot, defend, jump out of the gym, play in the post and he has also shown that he can elevate his game on the biggest stage. That combination at this age is rare. He’s special.

In Curry, Thompson and Barnes the Warriors have potentially locked down the 1/2/3 positions for the next decade. Their present and future is very bright.

Nate Robinson’s value

I don’t particularly like the guy, but full credit to him, he’s been ballin’ in these playoffs. Can you believe he’s working on a minimum contract, making ‘only’ $1.1 million?

As an unrestricted free agent this offseason he’s in for a pay rise, clearly, but I don’t like his chances of sticking around in Chicago. The Bulls are already nudging the tax line for next season, and with Kirk Hinrich under contract to fulfill backup duties (as well as the rookie Teague) the notoriously stingy Bulls may balk at giving Robinson his due. That would be a shame because having Robinson working as the permanent backup to Derrick Rose would be a tremendous advantage for this team.

What’s a fair deal for Robinson on the open market? I could swallow something in the two-year, $8 million range. (I still think he’s a bit of a headcase)

It will be interesting to see how it plays out in the offseason.

Miami vs. Memphis? Yes please

The way things are shaking out I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to say that we may be headed for a Miami-Memphis matchup in the NBA Finals. And if we want the Heat to be challenged, this who we want coming out of the west.

The Rudy Gay trade changed everything for Memphis; apart from the obvious financial benefits, on the court they’re better defensively, more efficient/smarter on the offensive end (because half their offense isn’t hijacked by the poor shooting Gay) and they’re just generally a much more consistent team. So, by removing Gay and replacing him with a rock solid role player (Prince), they’ve basically transformed from a flaky pretender to a legit contender overnight. Says a lot about Gay, doesn’t it?

If you look at the matchups, Memphis is perfectly set up to tackle the Heat. Miami are vulnerable on the inside, and that’s the Grizzlies’ strength with Z-Bo and Gasol. They also have a pair of elite wing defenders (Allen and Prince) to matchup with James and Wade, and a great point guard in Mike Conley to run the show.

Miami would still be a pretty strong favourite, but like the Bulls the Grizzlies will make them earn it, and then some.


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