Andrew Bogut was a dominant defensive force with the Milwaukee Bucks many years ago. He’s gone through a plethora of injuries throughout his last few seasons–including this one. However, in this postseason he has shined–much to the Spurs detriment.
The Spurs thrive on getting shots at the rim and in the lane. They don’t like to take a lot of midrange jump shots even though they can make them. The middle part of the floor is one of the most inefficient spots on the floor. Their offense is tailor made to get 3-point shots coming from the corner and layups. Anything else is really not ideal.
So, enter Andrew Bogut, destroyer of efficiency. In the Warriors are a -7.5 with Bogut off of the court. When Bogut plays they only allow 102.8 points per 100 possessions. Without him they allow 110.3 points per 100 possessions–you don’t have to be a math genius to figure out what the better option is here defensively.
This is very weird because in the regular season Bogut wasn’t as much of a plus. The Warriors were only .4 points better per 100 with Bogut on the floor. There are a few things that go into this.
First, Bogut wasn’t healthy during the regular season. He fought injuries all season and only played 32 games. He had treatment on his ankle early and then after four games he didn’t return until January. In the 32 games that Bogut played in, he only played 24.6 minutes. Carl Landry and Festus Ezili were eating up the minutes that he didn’t play and pairing those two with David Lee isn’t going to make your defense good to say the least.
That’s another thing–David Lee is such an awful defender. Playing alongside Lee does wonders for your offense because of his versatility as a shooter, driver in short distances and a passer. He can get to the rim, facilitate and score–skills that are of the highest quality for big men. With that being said, he’s one of the worst interior defenders and single cover defenders in the league. Playing him will not yield positive defense.
Still, had Bogut played more the Warriors would’ve played much better on the defensive end. It was hard for him to find his stride in the regular season due to so much time missed. Now, it seems that Bogut is working wonders for the Warriors defense. He couldn’t have better timing for this.
Getting back to this series, Bogut has done a great job of deterring all of the Spurs shots on the inside. Only 29.5 percent of their shots have come at the rim in the playoffs. In the regular season that number was a much higher 33.5 percent. Just over 10 percent of their shots came form the corner three area. In the playoffs only about 7 percent of their shots are coming from that area.
Lets take a look at what Andrew Bogut is doing to deter shots at the rim. Below, here’s a play where Bogut’s presence forces Tony Parker to take a midrange jump shot. Bogut also gets a great contest on Parker’s jumper because of his length. Take a look:
Duncan sets a drag screen on the wing for Parker so he can get free of Klay Thompson. Thompson is now out of the play because of a solid screen set by Duncan. This leaves Parker on an island with Bogut.
Bogut does a great job of staying square with Parker and blocking his entry to the lane. Take a look:
Bogut makes sure that he doesn’t allow Parker any lanes into the paint. He knows that he has help already waiting behind him–the Warriors aren’t guarding Danny Green or Kawhi Leonard above the arch. Even if Parker chooses to kick it there, the rotations to the shooters will be easy for the Warriors because of how difficult of a passing lane Parker would have.
Instead, Parker opts for the 20 foot jump shot–something that he’s trademarked over the last few years. However, with Bogut sitting in his face, this is a rather difficult shot for Parker to hit. Bogut’s length will obviously bother him.
Lets examine the next play. Here’s another one of Tony Parker’s specialties in rejecting the screen. Parker runs Harrison Barnes into a Tim Duncan screen. He has enough room to slip into the paint and try to do some damage. Bogut comes up on Parker here and slides with him through the paint keeping his hands up. This gives Parker no other option but to kick the ball out. Take a look:
Bogut sliding with Parker is so important here. Again, he does an excellent job of not allowing Parker to turn the corner and get to the rim. As soon as Parker is free of his man, Bogut is already sagging back into the lane to ensure that Parker can’t get to the rim.
Again, the defense collapsed into the paint in order to help Bogut if Parker got by him. Draymond Green left Boris Diaw to help in the lane and Stephen Curry recovered to Kawhi Leonard here.
Diaw ended up with the ball beyond the arch which is what you want because he doesn’t take a lot of threes. He ended up driving into a clogged paint late in the clock and taking a difficult turnaround shot.
We can see Bogut doing some more of this wonderful work defensively here in play three. Bogut finds himself defending a side pick and roll which is tricky. Why? Because Bogut can’t come up too far and expose the rim but he has a shorter distance to cover. Its easy for him to make the mistake of coming up too high and getting blown by. Take a look:
Bogut positions himself between Leonard and the rim defending this perfectly. Leonard has nowhere to go even though the defense has collapsed. Most of the easy passes are taken away from Leonard because the defense hasn’t fully committed to taking away his drive.
Look at how Bogut positions himself directly between Leonard and Duncan once Leonard gets past the rim and is forced to finish on the other side. The lane for Leonard to get the ball to Duncan is very slim and has little margin for error.
With no shooters on the floor besides Danny Green, there is no good outside pass for Leonard to make. He’s stuck trying to finish over Bogut.
Bogut neutralized a Spurs play that they commonly use in the side pick and roll out of a motion weak set. If he can continue to do this the Spurs will continue to struggle to generate offense.
Having shooters on the floor for the Spurs should definitely help in this case. It gives a lot more options for the Spurs to go to. The only problem with that is that the Warriors are switching on a majority of screens that involve shooters and its working. The Spurs haven’t been able to hit from deep.
Matt Bonner has been rendered ineffective because of this switching strategy and it has been a problem. With Bogut defending the paint the way he is the recovery on shooters is made easier. The defensive rotations have been crisp for the Warriors because of Bogut.
Playing small is something that the Spurs should do. They need someone who will take Bogut out of the paint and render him ineffective. They had success with Boris Diaw and Kawhi Leonard playing their big positions in game one when they came back, but Boris Diaw was aggressive and willing to take three point shots.
If Diaw doesn’t step up the Spurs don’t have much of a chance to take Bogut out of the game and that isn’t good news for the Spurs.
Bogut’s position down low has been immaculate for the Warriors on the defensive end. He takes away two lanes on one play in this next possession that we’ll call play four. Take a look:
In this play the Spurs attempt to free Tony Parker up from Klay Thompson who had done an excellent job defending him all series long. Klay is chasing Parker around a single Tiago Splitter screen and then Splitter sets a pick for Parker on the wing. Meanwhile, Andrew Bogut has his eyes on the play as it develops as if he were a hawk.
Thompson does an excellent job of staying with Parker off of this screen. He chases behind him and takes away the midrange jumpshot that Parker was likely looking for. Now Parker is forced to get into the lane, but he still has no shot because of Bogut’s defense.
No, the play isn’t over yet. Danny Green ends up driving into the paint, but the paint is filled because Thompson never followed Parker back out to the outside. He and Bogut are both waiting on Green in the paint.
The lack of spacing that has been afforded to the Spurs is the driving force behind so much help defense from the Warriors. They are willing to take chances because of less shooting on the outside and having Bogut as a presence in the paint.
If the Spurs want to eliminate the threat of Bogut–and better their chances of winning the series–they must take him out of the paint by way of shooting and spacing. The counter to this would be playing Boris Diaw or attacking through transition a lot more than they have in this series.