Let’s forget about last night’s dominant win against the Orlando Magic for a second. Not just because it was at home against the Orlando Magic, but because there’s a minor concern that’s in the back of every Golden State Warriors fan’s mind right now. It’s been the Dubs’ biggest enemy over the course of this season and it’s the biggest thing that could prevent Golden State from competing with anyone in the playoffs: injuries.
For the sake of not overreacting, we should establish that both Andre Iguodala and Andrew Bogut aren’t expected to miss a lot of time. Iggy is expected to miss at least three games with knee tendinitis and Bogut just tweaked his ankle against the Portland Trail Blazers Sunday, but these are two slightly worrisome injuries given how close we are to the postseason.
Iguodala missed the majority of his games with a hamstring injury, so although knee tendinitis isn’t something to scoff at, at the very least it’s not a recurring injury. As for Bogut, the news that his ankles are bothering him in any way, shape or form is terrifying given his history with that very injury. After all, it was only two years ago that Bogut underwent surgery to clean out loose particles and bone spurs in his ankle. As has been the case all season long, the injury bug is the biggest thing that can derail this team.
Warriors are the most “flexible” team in the NBA. 1 good week away from No. 4 seed, 1 bad week away from out of the playoffs.
— J.A. Adande (@jadande) March 19, 2014
Without Iguodala and Bogut, the Warriors would be in serious danger of not only being easily eliminated in the first round, but of falling out of the playoff picture in the next few weeks. Sure, Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson will usually get hot enough from downtown to help you beat the crappy teams, as we saw last night against Orlando. David Lee has been a regular double-double threat and Golden State’s bench has made vast improvements since the Steve Blake trade. But let’s not forget how vital Iggy and Bogut are to this defense, especially for a team still in the thick of the Western Conference playoff race.
Heading into last night’s game, the Warriors were ninth in the NBA in points allowed (98.9) and fifth in rebounds per game (45.3). Their defensive rating (how many points an opponent scores per 100 possessions) is 102.1, good for third best in the league. These all signify a top five defense in the NBA, even with the outdated and misguided perception that the Warriors are offense-first team.
Bogut and Iguodala are the biggest reasons for this change of culture. Bogut leads the NBA in defensive rating (95.8) while Iggy’s defensive rating (102.0) falls just outside the top 20 in the league. Bogut is also ninth in defensive win shares (3.7), 11th in rebounds per game (10.1), sixth in blocks per game (1.9), fifth in defensive rebound percentage (29.1) and fourth in total rebound percentage (20.4). And although Iguodala can’t quite boast being in the top 20 in any of those categories, his lockdown perimeter defense doesn’t quite translate to the statistics as well as the fact that he kept Golden State’s defense strong during the games Bogut missed this year.
GSW has allowed 98.3 points per 100 possessions in the 36 games Iguodala has played & 105.0 in the 12 he’s missed. DPOY candidate, for sure.
— John Schuhmann (@johnschuhmann) March 19, 2014
This could be a bit premature and nobody’s predicting doomsday based on a couple of injuries that are, as of right now, classified as day-to-day. But given how many nagging injuries have prevented this team from achieving as much as it should have this season, it’s also not unreasonable to look at these next few weeks with a little bit of trepidation. The Memphis Grizzlies, Dallas Mavericks and Phoenix Suns are all hungry for a playoff spot and they aren’t going away anytime soon. The sooner Bogut and Iguodala are back on the floor for the Warriors, the better.