The Warriors have lost six of 10, David Lee has had a couple tough games since being voted to the All-Star team, and Golden State is about to begin a favorable stretch of schedule custom made for bounce-back opportunities. This would be a big week no matter what.
Except that Marcus Thompson II of the Bay Area News Group is reporting that Andrew Bogut is aiming to return to the lineup tonight at Toronto in what would be Bogut’s first action since Nov. 7, the last time he attempted to come back from the fractured left ankle of Jan. 25, 2012, and ensuing microfracture surgery in April.
The Warriors and Bogut, both having long ago grown tired of conjecture over his health, are, not surprisingly, saying little.
The microfracture procedure was not revealed until long after the fact. Bogut was supposed to be ready for the start of camp and was not. He was supposed to be ready for the start of the regular season and basically was not, and everyone involved put a lid on any timeline from there out of fear of the appearance of another setback. When Bogut is able to play, he will play, likely without much advance notice. That’s been the timeline.
“Since not playing was Bogut’s call, his return is also his call,” Thompson wrote. “One source said the Warriors don’t need to see how he looks because the barometer is how he feels and what he can do on the court. So even though he hasn’t participated in a full practice, he is still cleared to jump into a game when he feels ready.”
The timing — after lasting just 73 minutes over four games in the previous attempted return, after missing the next 38 games — makes a projected Bogut return particularly noteworthy. Golden State, after mostly playing beyond even the most optimistic of expectations without the center that was supposed to be a perfect fit for the defense and the offense, lost to the Bulls by 16 points and to the Bucks by seven in its last two games.
They did beat the Clippers and Thunder just before this recent bad stretch, but since Jan. 13 have also given up 116 to the Nuggets, been dominated by the Heat and failed to break 90 points in three of the eight games.
Plus, Lee is 12 of 33 from the field the last two games against Joakim Noah of the Bulls, a candidate for Defensive Player of the Year, and Larry Sanders of the Bucks, the league leader in blocks. Lee had six rebounds in Chicago before grabbing 15 in Milwaukee. Seeing Golden State — one of the league’s top rebounding teams all season — get beat on the boards by the Bucks is a bad sign.
Now comes the ideal schedule for a response:
Tonight – at Toronto
Tuesday – at Cleveland in the finale of the four-game swing
Thursday – vs. Dallas
Saturday – vs. Phoenix
Anything less than 3-1 against four opponents with a combined .353 winning percentage, with the 19-25 Mavericks as the only team within telescope range of a winning record, would have to be considered a disappointment. The Warriors are in a virtual tie with Denver for fifth place in the West despite the recent struggles, two games behind No. 4 Memphis and 2 ½ ahead of No. 7 Utah, and have been handed a chance to recover.