CLEVELAND – As the Golden State Warriors spent the preseason explaining (and apologizing for) the good fortune (or luck) that contributed to their title run last season, Andrew Bogut provided the response that would become the unofficial theme for their leave-no-doubt season when he declared that he was getting his championship ring fitted for his middle finger.
With the Warriors one victory from completing a historic, brazen run to back-to-back titles, Bogut won’t be around for the possible completion. The Warriors announced on Wednesday that an MRI revealed that Bogut has a multiple bone bruises in the knee and will be out six to eight weeks. The injury will not require surgery.
The Warriors lead the NBA Finals 3-2, with Game 6 Thursday in Cleveland.
Bogut was forced to exit Golden State’s 112-97 loss after blocking a J.R. Smith layup and landing awkwardly on his left knee. With the Warriors trailing by three points in the third quarter, Bogut’s leg bent backward and Smith exacerbated the injury by inadvertently rolling into him. After writhing on the floor in pain, Bogut had to be assisted to the locker room, unable to apply pressure on his leg, and did not return.
Already without big man Draymond Green – who was serving a one-game suspension after receiving his fourth flagrant foul of the postseason for swiping at LeBron James’ groin – the Warriors wound up getting outscored 45-33 the rest of the game without one of their best defensive players around to protect the rim.
Bogut has scored only six points in the past four games but has averaged two blocked shots in the Finals, recording five blocks in the Warriors’ 33-point blowout in Game 2 and three more rejections in just eight minutes of Game 5. An 11-year-veteran, Bogut played 70 games this season, the most since his third season in the league. He sustained an adductor injury in the final game of the conference semifinals against Portland but returned to play the next 12 games.
The Warriors managed to get through most of the past two regular seasons without much adversity, aside from coach Steve Kerr missing the first 43 games of this year’s 73-win campaign. But the postseason has included several rounds of setbacks and challenges, beginning with injuries to two-time MVP Stephen Curry and continuing through Green’s suspension and now Bogut’s injury.
Bogut traveled with the team to Cleveland for Game 6 but will have his season end much like last season, when he didn’t see any action in the final two games. Kerr could elect to start backup center Festus Ezeli or could go with the undersized Green to play alongside Andre Iguodala in the frontcourt. Green started at center in the final three wins of last year’s NBA Finals against Cleveland.