DENVER – The mystery man who isn’t announced his presence with four blocks, 14 rebounds, nine points (on four-of-seven shooting) in 31 minutes and a level of interior defense the Warriors spent years trying to find. The Nuggets, who probably didn’t really need a reminder, got one anyway.
Andrew Bogut is a presence. That’s hardly the stuff of news flashes after years of prominence in Milwaukee. But Bogut has been on the Golden State roster a little more than 13 months, and Saturday afternoon at the Pepsi Center in the playoff opener was the first time the Nuggets faced him as a Warrior.
Bogut had missed six chances to play against Denver in the last season and a half while recovering from an ankle injury. So Saturday was a reminder for the Nuggets — whose game is based on getting to the rim — on how hard it will be to counter a shot blocker good enough to turn a game.
“His effect is defensively,” Nuggets coach George Karl said. “How he’s covering our pick-and-rolls, how he’s clogging up the paint, how we have to attack him. We don’t want him standing in the middle of the paint. We want him to have to move laterally. We had one play where Anthony Randolph went right by him. We had a couple plays where we see that his feet can be attacked. But if you’re going to let him be a tree in the middle of the paint, he’s damn good.”
The flashback to 2012 and the first round against the Lakers is impossible to avoid as the Nuggets and Warriors head to Game 2 tonight (10:30 ET, TNT).
“Remember last year,” Karl said, “(Andrew) Bynum had 10 blocks on us in Game 1 and then we figured it out. We hopefully did a better job of getting him out of the way.”
Bynum was a primary reason the Lakers needed seven games to finally close out the smaller, less-experienced Nuggets. He had 18 blocks in the six outings that followed.
Karl likes the comparison and will plot a similar turn against Bogut. The good news for the Warriors, of course, is that they have him at all, after Bogut bruised the same left ankle late in the regular season and missed two games before returning in the season finale last Wednesday for 17 minutes. With two more days off after that game, he got to 31 minutes in the opener against the Nuggets and played well.