OAKLAND – They said the injury was not a concern, that Andrew Bogut would not even have X-rays on the sprained left ankle suffered Thursday night in the loss to the Thunder at Oracle Arena. The Warriors, even knowing what that joint means to their playoff chances, consider it, in the words of coach Mark Jackson, “not too much.”
Tell it to the rest of the Western Conference.
Implications were already appearing even before Golden State’s scheduled 11:30 p.m. departure for Los Angeles, with Bogut skipping the trip in what the team said was a precautionary move and therefore the Friday game against the Lakers in a meeting that could have a great impact on the Western Conference playoff picture. And that may only be the start.
The Lakers are a game ahead of the Jazz for the eighth and final spot, a margin L.A. needs to protect since Utah has the tiebreaker, and now get the shorthanded Warriors two nights after getting the shorthanded Trail Blazers. Golden State is a half-game ahead of the Rockets for No. 6 – Houston has the tiebreaker – and now faces at least one contest without a major interior presence on both ends of the court. Monday, the Warriors play the Spurs, in a battle with Oklahoma City for No. 1 in the conference.
This is no ordinary player and this is no ordinary injury. It is the same ankle that kept Bogut sidelined his entire 2011-12 as a Warrior, originally a fracture while playing for the Bucks before the trade to the Bay Area. It is the same ankle that eventually required microfracture surgery, that cost him most of training camp and the exhibition schedule and cost him 42 games before the Jan. 28 return.
“It certainly doesn’t help us,” said David Lee, Golden State’s All-Star power forward. “We’re just going to have to wait and see, though. We’ll just cross our fingers that it’s just a minor setback and he’ll be back real soon. Andrew’s a tough kid and, like I said, it’s disappointing he’s not going to be able to travel with us tomorrow because the Lakers have one of the biggest front lines in the league. But hopefully he’ll get good news when he has the MRI.”
There would be no MRI or X-rays, the Warriors said. Bogut will be held out one game, Friday against the Lakers, and then a decision will be made on Monday against the Spurs. Only one contest remains after that, Wednesday at Portland, until the playoff opener against an opponent to be determined.
It’s that determination process that just became more perilous. Jockeying for postseason positioning is a big enough deal anyway, only now holding at No. 6 is everything: Stay there and get the preferred matchup of the Nuggets, Clippers or Grizzlies, or drop to 7 or 8 and face very bad odds against the Thunder or Spurs.
“We don’t think it’s too much,” Jackson said of the Bogut injury. “We’ll find out. But we’ll rest it, treat it, and see how he responds. But we’re not too concerned right now.”
Before the announcement that Bogut would skip Friday in Los Angeles, Jackson was asked if he was tempted to hold his starting center out a game or two as a precaution.
“I’m tempted to make sure he’s fine,” Jackson replied. “ He’s too important to us. We’ll be very smart with him.”