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Vardon: Cavs' title hopes "probably don't go down" with Bogut injury
Andrew Bogut’s likely season-ending knee injury will impact the Cleveland Cavaliers, but won’t decrease their NBA Finals chances, according to Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com.
Bogut suffered a fractured left tibia just 58 seconds into his Cavalier debut, while defending against Okaro White of the Miami Heat. The injury continues a horror run for the Australian, and it robs him of a potential mouth-watering battle with his former club, the Golden State Warriors, in the finals.
However, Vardon believes Bogut wasn’t going to be a transcendent piece in the Cavs’ championship defence.
“He would have made a difference, but Andrew was not going to put, or not, put the Cavs into the finals,” Vardon told SEN Breakfast.
“He goes out there last night, breaks his leg and is out for the year; the Cavs' finals chances probably don’t go down because of this.”
Even if the former number one draft pick wasn’t going to be the be-all and end-all for Cleveland’s defence, he was still pegged to play a key role in the road to June. This fact isn’t lost on the Cavaliers, especially with their stretch run of the regular season being a confronting one.
“They were excited to have him, LeBron [James] certainty was,” Vardon said.
“He was still an excellent piece to add and they’re coming up on the toughest part of the schedule. Nine of their next 12 games are on the road, Kevin Love is out, and they were down a big man even before Kevin went out.
“They needed a guy to come in and play real minutes and somebody who could protect the rim and rebound like Andrew can. Offensively, they needed a passer, something they haven’t really had out of the five-spot.
“You throw in his pedigree and resume, and it is an incredible coup to get him at the bottom of the roster.”
The Cavs, who are atop of the Eastern Conference with a three game cushion, play 14 of their last 20 regular season contests against teams currently in playoff positions. That schedule, married with the need to taper minutes for their starters leading into the postseason, meant Bogut was a needed asset, immediately.
“They were going to rely on him in March,” Vardon said.
“They wanted to reduce Tristan Thompson’s minutes significantly to get him ready for the postseason, and to do that by plugging in a guy with the career accomplishments Andrew has, is just incredible.”
Bogut’s outspoken attitude has injected a sense of fresh air into the sports media landscape, something the local press in Cleveland noticed straight away.
“He met with us at about 5:45 for a 7:00 game, and he was hilarious,” Vardon said.
“His answers were funny, intelligent, well-thought and he seemed like a really engaging guy. Some of the people who had dealt with him knew that already.
“From a writer’s perspective, we were excited to have him.”
While the hype was real amongst the media, Bogut’s actual teammates were also salivating at the prospect of playing alongside him – which makes the injury all the more demoralising.
“The players in Cleveland were excited to have him in for a whole different set of reasons,” Vardon said.
“To have this happen the way that it did, between all the build-up of getting him in, then having a season ending injury occur 58 seconds into his first game, it’s crazy. It’s surreal.
“It was a deflating moment for anyone who was there.”