OAKLAND As the Warriors regular season creeps closer andcloser, the questions about center Andrew Bogut get louder and louder.Will he or wont he be ready for the Oct. 31 opener againstthe Suns in Phoenix?Bogut is still targeting that game to return, but it seemsapparent there is a real possibility his Warriors debut could come later thanthat.After the trade, obviously you want to be out there, Bogutsaid earlier this week. Thats the dangerous thing about these injuries. Icant let what other people are thinking and wanting affect the injury. I needto come back 100 percent. I want to be out there. Ive thought of manyscenarios, and I want to be 100 percent ready for that first game.But if we get to a point where its still 95 percent, Ill play in the second game. But Idefinitely want to be back out there. But at the same time I want to be verysmart with it. I dont want to come back for the first game and then in lateNovember have a setback. I want to come back and be back. I dont want to haveto miss games or practices.Bogut fractured his left foot on Jan. 25, and has yet to becleared to play 5-on-5 and resume all basketball activities. However, he hasstepped things up in the past few days and his goal remains to play in apreseason game or two before he gets out there for real.I would love to play in a preseason game or two because Ihavent play a game of basketball since January, Bogut said. For my mentalcapacity I want to get out there and play a game or two before the first(regular-season) game. I dont want to be rehabbing and then go straight intoan NBA game. Its a tricky situation, but you just have to staypositive.One way to stay positive would be to get the go-ahead in aweek or so to play five-on-five.Just running, dunking, cutting those are the main threethings that I have problems with and Im starting to respond well to that. Buttheres still some tightness when it gets fatigued and thats the main problem.It gets fatigued and my running pattern changes a little bit and thats goingto cause some problems. Otherwise, short bursts of 30- and 40-minute sessionsare great and Im doing well.Until Bogut returns, rookie Festus Ezeli will hold down thecenter spot. But Warriors coach Mark Jackson acknowledges that not having Bogutmeans the Warriors arent at their best.It certainly affects us, Jackson said. The reason why isbecause hes our starting center and hes a weapon that we dont have. Festuscan duplicate some things defensively he can protect the paint, he can blockshots and he can rebound. But Boguts ability to obviously defend, to postup to pass the basketball gives usa weapon that we havent practiced with. It definitely affects us. And guys onthis team have never played with him before and hes never played with them.But that will take care of itself.
CLEVELAND -- Boston star forward Gordon Hayward suffered a gruesome injury, breaking his left ankle just five minutes into his debut with the Celtics.
Hayward, who signed a four-year, $128 million free agent contract this summer, went up for an alley-oop pass and collided with LeBron James midway through the first quarter. He got his leg twisted underneath him as came back to the floor. Hayward collapsed under the basket and looked in horror as his left foot was pointing outward.
He put his hands to his face and dropped back to the floor as a hush fell over the sellout crowd inside Quicken Loans Arena.
Hayward's new teammates huddled in prayer at their bench as a distressed James covered his mouth and several Cleveland players nearby looked away. Hayward had his leg placed in an air cast, and James came over and consoled him before the 27-year-old was pushed from the floor on a stretcher.
Cleveland's crowd gave Hayward a roaring ovation as he left.
The team later confirmed that Hawyard's ankle was broken. It's a devastating blow for the Celtics, who had hoped to close the gap on the Cavs in the Eastern Conference.
Now, they could be without Hayward for an extended period.
Hayward spent the past six seasons with the Utah Jazz before signing with Boston.
The injury overshadowed Kyrie Irving's return to Cleveland after the All-Star point guard was traded to Boston this summer.
Warriors guard Shaun Livingston and Thunder forward Paul George, who have both suffered serious leg injuries, took to Twitter after seeing Hayward's injury.
God bless you bro @gordonhayward ! 🙏🏾 help him thru this god!— Paul George (@Yg_Trece) October 18, 2017
🙏🏽🙏🏽🙏🏽 @gordonhayward. Only God has ALL the answers.— Shaun Livingston (@ShaunLivingston) October 18, 2017
Defense of their second NBA title in three seasons begins in earnest Tuesday night, when the Warriors invite the reconfigured Houston Rockets into Oracle Arena.
There will be a pregame ceremony in which the Warriors will receive their championship rings.
The Warriors, who believe the additions of Nick Young and Omri Casspi will result in improved the bench production, are coming off a season in which they led the NBA in scoring offense, with the Rockets finishing second.
Houston made considerably more adjustments over the summer, acquiring perennial All-Star point guard Chris Paul and rugged forward PJ Tucker.
Warriors by 9.5
MATCHUPS TO WATCH
Stephen Curry vs. Chris Paul: These two veterans, both headed for the Hall of Fame, have been at war for the better part of a decade, with Curry gaining in decided edge in recent years. That was when Paul was the leader of the once-hated Los Angeles Clippers. With Paul moving to Houston, it will be interesting to see if a change in scenery means a different type of battle. The winner likely decides the outcome.
Klay Thompson vs. James Harden: Familiar from their days as prep stars in Southern California, these two, by most accounts, are the top two shooting guards in the league. Though Harden assumed the point role last season, he’ll have greater latitude to generate his own shot now that Paul is on board.
Warriors: F Omri Casspi (R ankle sprain) is listed as probable. F Andre Iguodala (back strain) is listed as out.
Rockets: No injuries listed.
RECENT SERIES HISTORY
The Warriors won three of four meetings last season and have won 12 of the last 15 regular-season meetings overall. They also have won eight of the last 10 meetings in the postseason.
THREE THINGS TO WATCH
THE SCOREBOARD: Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni implies this will be a shootout. Warriors forward Draymond Green responds by saying one team (the Warriors) plays defense. It’s conceivable the teams could combine for 75 3-point attempts. The scoreboard could blow out before the final buzzer.
THE NEW GUYS: Because he is in constant motion and feels the angles, Casspi seems to be a good fit for the Warriors offense. Young is coming along, but admits he’s still learning the nuances of the offense and feeling out his teammates. It may not be fair to expect much in Game 1, but their work is sure to be examined.
THE POMP: There is the celebration of a championship, the ceremony in which rings (and the ultra-elaborate boxes) will be presented, and the adoration of a sellout crowd. The Warriors are becoming veterans at being celebrities, but what happens when emotions are part of the equation?
“I saw what happened last year when San Antonio just drilled us. Saw that we were able to recover. So whatever happens, it’s just one game.” --Warriors GM Bob Myers on opening night nerves