Aussies in the NBA Playoffs: Bogut's defense stifles Davis game-tying shot

Never count your win until the final buzzer goes off - that's the way basketball, especially the playoffs roll. And so it was with Game 3 of the New Orleans-Golden State series. The Pelicans had a real shot at taking Game 3 today, as they blitzed the Dubs through the second and third quarters.

Golden State however, had something to say. After a tepid 17-point third quarter, the Warriors came alive in the final frame to score 39 points, while holding New Orleans to a mere 19 points. Chef Curry became the insane closer the team needed, and started cooking. He missed the first shot, but a Speights rebound gave Curry a second shot at redemption, and he sent the game into overtime despite having two defenders draped all over.

"You give him two looks at that basket? In the corner?" Warriors forward Draymond Green said incredulously. "Oh man, I knew that was money when it left his hand." - Warriors win in overtime after furious comeback

The Warriors ended up winning the game in overtime, 123-119.

What of our big man Bogey? Andrew Bogut played only 26 minutes despite the game going into OT, and had 6 points (3 of 5 from the field), 5 rebounds (2 offensive) and an assist.

Bogut's rebounds experienced a significant drop this game (14 per game in Games 1 & 2), as he was often not in position to secure the rebound. The Warriors however out-rebounded the Pelicans 51-47, with a massive 22 offensive rebounds corralled. Draymond Green showed his worth on the glass this night, collecting a career-high 17 rebounds (7 offensive).

Bogey wasn't playing at his defensive best this game, but he was instrumental in denying a potential Davis bucket, one that would have tied the game up and sent it into double overtime.

Losing touch?

Something less obvious, but equally interesting happened today. Among the Golden State starters, Bogut received the least touches (31), while making the least amount of passes (24). In Game 1, Bogut got 58 touches and made 47 passes. Game 2? 54 touches, 47 passes.

It's evident Bogut's touches (and consequently passes) dropped by almost 50%. He wasn't able to facilitate the game through his usual high post passes, and the regular season has proved that the Warriors often get better looks when their center makes the right play.

Were the Pelicans' aggressive defense not allowing Bogut to play a passing role in the offense? Or was Bogut's reduced role, an intentional shift in strategy? It could be a mixture of both, but this is something worth keeping an eye on, when Game 4 arrives.

Defending the stretch


Here's a thought on potential defensive mismatches: Bogut's role as rim protector might spell problems on covering stretch forwards. Instead of Omer Asik, the Pelicans paired Ryan Anderson up with Anthony Davis, opening the floor up with a deadly shooter. The clever timing of this play forced Bogut to rotate and help on the rolling Davis, while Anderson scrambled free for an open shot at the wing.

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Granted, Klay might have been able to cover Davis a little better, but it didn't seem like there was any other alternative. The other defenders had been dragged away to the strong side, with the intention of getting either Davis the ball, or an open three from Anderson. It will be fairly interesting to see how Golden State reacts and prepares its counter against this wrinkle.

The veteran hold

It's not something that's new to the league, but Bogut has a little trick he uses to create a clear lane for his teammates. Notice how he grabs on to Davis, in order to allow Green to get a clear driving lane without Davis' help defense. Gordon was forced to foul Green on this play.

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Gotta be a little bit less obvious on these plays!

Don't miss Game 4, as the Warriors look to close this series out on the road in New Orleans. Game 4 will be on Sunday April 26, 10:00 AM AEST (on Foxtel ESPN3).