DeMarcus Cousins injury chance is why Warriors signed Andrew Bogut

DeMarcus Cousins injury chance is why Warriors signed Andrew Bogut

OAKLAND -- The Warriors signed Andrew Bogut last month as an insurance maneuver. Now, he’s an absolute necessity.

Bogut’s value increased immensely Monday night, when starting center DeMarcus Cousins went down in the opening minutes of Game 2 of their first-round NBA playoff series against the Clippers with a quad injury of such severity that he did not return, and is scheduled to undergo an MRI exam Tuesday.

Though the Warriors know what Bogut brings, they were eager to see what Cousins, a legitimate All-Star, could produce in his first postseason as an active player.

Now, they simply hope Boogie is able to play at some point during these NBA playoffs. Based on photographs of his left quadriceps, that would require a miracle.

After nabbing a steal with 8:33 left in the first quarter, Cousins chugged off on a one-man fast break before slipping and falling and immediately clutching the front of his left thigh. He remained down for a few moments before rising with assistance, and being escorted into the locker room.

The Warriors shortly thereafter announced that the 6-foot-11, 270-pound center would not return to the game.

After eight seasons yearning for the playoffs and never making an appearance, Cousins signed a one-year contract with the Warriors last summer, expecting to make the playoffs. He finally got his wish. He lasted a total of 25 minutes -- 21 before fouling out of Game 1 on Saturday and four before limping out of Game 2.

Which means the dimensions Boogie brings -- these Warriors have never had a center with such wondrous offensive gifts -- likely are gone before they had a chance to fully bloom as a member of this team.

Scoring from the post? Gone. Center as a 3-point threat? Not anymore. Bully ball in the paint? No longer an option.

This will hurt Cousins because it meant so much for him to be a part of this, and it will disappoint the Warriors because they so badly wanted him to experience this journey.

This, though, is why they signed Bogut. Just in case. Because you never know.

So the Warriors, for the foreseeable future, will look much as they did before Cousins was activated Jan. 18. The only tangible difference is that Bogut has been added.

[RELATED: LeBron shows support for Boogie after Game 2 quad injury]

Warriors coach Steve Kerr has said all along that he will deploy his centers based largely on matchups -- after Cousins was the unquestioned starter. Expect Kerr to start Bogut against traditional centers, though he won’t play the 32 or so minutes allotted to Cousins.

Kevon Looney likely will get starts against “smaller” big men, and it’s conceivable that Jordan Bell will receive another opportunity -- especially if the Warriors advance and face the Houston Rockets in the second round.

Damian Jones, who opened the season as the Warriors' starting center, tore his left pectoral muscle in December and is rehabilitating from surgery. He has progressed enough to play 3-on-3, but the Warriors have not issued a timetable for his return.

Without Cousins, the Warriors go from perhaps the most gifted scoring center in the league to what likely is a center-by-committee approach. And, still, they will be favored to win it all.

Andrew Bogut explains how becoming father changed his life perspective

Andrew Bogut explains how becoming father changed his life perspective

Programming note: Watch the pregame edition of Warriors Outsiders on Wednesday night at 6, streaming live on the MyTeams app.

Andrew Bogut and his wife have two kids. The oldest is about 2 1/2 years old, and the youngest is about 9 months old.

That means the big man wasn't a father during his first run with the Warriors, which ended in July 2016 when he was traded to Dallas.

“Having two kids totally changed his life,” Golden State coach Steve Kerr told Ethan Strauss of The Athletic. “He’s no longer a cynic. He’s just as smart and wise and fun.

"He’s always been a really good dude.”

Bogut agrees that being a father has changed his outlook on life.

“If you do lose or play bad, you get to go home to two kids who don’t give a s--t about it, so it’s a pretty cool thing," Bogut explained to The Athletic. "You can get home from whatever you’re doing, and when you’ve got two kids and one of them s--ts themselves, and you’ve got to change the diaper, you kind of forget about all the bad things you’re going through.”

Speaking as somebody who became a father three months ago, this is absolutely correct.

Bogut -- who started five games during the regular season -- jumped center in Games 3 and 4 of the NBA playoff series against the Clippers in place of the injured DeMarcus Cousins:
Game 3 = eight points, 14 rebounds, five assists, steal, block
Game 4 = eight points, 10 rebounds, four assists

He's helping on the court and in the locker room, where he's respected by all.

[RELATEDBogut gives interesting response to Embiid's 3-1 Dubs joke]

“He’s still an a--hole, that ain't changed,” Kevon Looney told The Athletic, while smiling. “But he was always nice to his teammates, and he’s great to me. I say he’s probably the smartest, one of the smartest basketball players I ever played with.

"Him and Andre [Iguodala] and Draymond [Green], IQ level is crazy.”

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Rockets GM Daryl Morey agrees facing Warriors in semis could be better

Rockets GM Daryl Morey agrees facing Warriors in semis could be better

Programming note: Watch the pregame edition of Warriors Outsiders on Wednesday night at 6, streaming live on the MyTeams app.

On the last day of the NBA's regular season, the following two things happened:
1) The Blazers -- who rested their top guys and only played six players -- erased a 28-point deficit and beat the Kings
2) The Nuggets -- who were down at home by 11 points with a little over three minutes left -- stormed back and beat the Wolves

As a result, Denver finished with the No. 2 seed and Portland with the No. 3 seed.

The main takeaway? The Rockets entered the playoffs at No. 4 seed, which meant a potential showdown with the Warriors in the Western Conference Semifinals. It became impossible for there to be a rematch between Golden State and Houston in the West Finals.

Rockets GM Daryl Morey was recently a guest on The Bill Simmons Podcast and he was asked if potentially facing the Warriors one round earlier could actually be beneficial.

"It's very hard to know. We can't control it. To be frank, we don't spend a lot of time on it but we have talked about it internally," Morey said. "It could work in our favor but it's very hard to know.

"As much as we could get injured, so could they. All I know is that we pretty much knew we were gonna have to beat them, so does the order really matter? Probably not. It would have been nice to get homecourt like last year.

"I think that could be a big factor -- last year at Oracle, their fans are great -- I do think not having homecourt is a factor. I do think we're a better team going into the series. Maybe our odds are similar to last year.

"We do feel very strongly we have a real shot at it. But obviously, they're the champs three of the last four years for a reason."

Simmons followed up by saying: "I was looking at it more like from a health standpoint. The longer the playoffs go, and especially, you know Chris (Paul) has battled nagging injuries his entire career -- you just know that if you can get through this Utah series..."

"We are slightly older than them, so yeah it could work in our favor, yeah," Morey said.

[RELATEDBogut gives interesting response to Embiid's 3-1 Dubs joke]

The health variable is a very fair point. The Rockets currently are up three-games-to-none on the Jazz in their first-round series. And if they complete the sweep in Utah on Monday night, they will get a solid chunk of time to rest before a potential series against the Dubs starts this weekend (assuming the Warriors beat the Clippers in Game 5 on Wednesday).

The rematch seems inevitable at this point and the basketball world deserves both teams to be fully healthy.

Make it happen, Basketball Gods.

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