Warriors center Andrew Bogut was told before the series that he was on his own with Tim Duncan, one of the greatest of all-time. Whatever happens, happens. But the help wasn’t coming.
To Bogut, that sounded like Australian for fun.
“I’m fine,” he said after totaling six points and 11 rebounds in Wednesday’s 100-91 Game 2 win. “He’s had games where he’s killed me and I’ve had games where I’ve guarded him well. You’ve just got to battle against him.”
A major part of the game plan is to play straight up on Duncan. The Warriors don’t mind if he scores. They just don’t want to double-team him because that opens up avenues for the Spurs’ wealth of 3-pointer shooters. And Duncan is such a great passer, he can pick the Warriors apart.
So the Warriors are allowing Bogut — and rookie center Festus Ezeli — to take their medicine against San Antonio’s low-post specialist. He’s averaged 21 points and 10 rebounds the first two games. He’s shooting 42.9 percent (15 of 35).
Bogut is all but giving Duncan the mid-range jumper. He’s using his size to keep Duncan from catching the ball deep and his shot-blocking ability to challenge Duncan’s array of post moves.
“If Tim gets off, like he did a little bit tonight, we’ll live with that,” Bogut said. “If he’s getting easy shots against me where he’s two feet from the basket, we have a problem. But if I keep working him, pushing him out, making him work for his buckets, we’re not too worried about it.”
With Bogut playing Duncan one-on-one, it allows another part of the Warriors’ game plan to play out. The Warriors are using guard Klay Thompson, who has emerged as a capable man-to-man defender, to chase around Spurs speedy point guard Tony Parker.
Golden State is playing Parker to his left, where the help waits. If he gets a screen to the right, Thompson (or whoever is on Parker) goes under the screen and concedes the midrange jumper. If he drives, Bogut is waiting in the paint.
But it starts with Bogut’s ability to be on an island with Duncan, and the confidence knowing he’s there instills the rest of the defense.
“In the regular season, when Bogut was out,” forward Carl Landry said, “sometimes we had to double-team Duncan and it left shooters open, and we had different types of rotations. It’s just real easy to have a guy down there to just defend Duncan as best as he can.”
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