ESPN’s Brian Windhorst shared how the injury to former Golden State Warriors center Andrew Bogut in the 2016 NBA Finals was more impactful than Golden State losing Draymond Green for Game 5 of that series due to a suspension.
Green was suspended for Game 5 after he accrued too many flagrant foul points. He was assessed a flagrant foul for hitting then-Cleveland Cavaliers superstar LeBron James in the groin area.
That forced Green to miss Game 5, and the Cavs ended up winning three straight games to erase a 3-1 series deficit and win the 2016 NBA Finals.
“Draymond’s suspension in the 2016 Finals did not cost the Warriors the Finals,” Windhorst said. “I see two things that are always said about that: No. 1, that he was suspended for that hit on LeBron. That’s not true. He was suspended for accumulation of flagrant foul points. Yes, the NBA knew when they assessed that flagrant foul that it would result in a suspension, but he got suspended just as equally for kicking Steven Adams in the groin.”
It was also pointed out by Tim Bontemps that Green threw Michael Beasley to the floor in the Warriors’ series with the Houston Rockets earlier in the 2016 postseason – which also helped feed into his suspension.
“The second thing is, everybody forgets that Andrew Bogut got hurt in Game 5,” Windhorst continued. “And I’m telling you, Andrew Bogut’s injury – which cost him two and a half games – hurt the Warriors more than not having Draymond in Game 5.”
Windhorst and Bontemps went on to discuss that the Warriors had to play Anderson Varejao and Festus Ezeli in Game 7 of that series.
Ezeli got the start in Game 7, going 0-for-4 from the field and posting a plus/minus of minus-9 despite playing just 11 minutes. Varejao – a former Cavs big man – played even less than Ezeli, but he was also minus-9 in his minutes. Golden State ended up losing Game 7 by four points.
Losing Bogut was huge for the Warriors, as he was the shot-blocking presence that the team needed on defense.
While Bogut didn’t score much against Cleveland in the 2016 NBA Finals (3.2 points per game in five appearances), he did average 2.0 blocks per game. Bogut blocked five shots in the Warriors’ Game 2 win in that series.
Though Green’s suspension played a role in Cleveland’s comeback, James and Kyrie Irving also played amazing basketball to allow the Cavs to win the series.
In Game 7, James made one of the greatest blocks of all time on Andre Iguodala, keeping the game tied at 89.
Irving would later make a 3-point shot with less than a minute to play to put Cleveland ahead for good.
While Green’s suspension may get talked about a lot, the loss of Bogut for all of Game 6 and Game 7 certainly helped the Cavs take the 2016 NBA Finals. There’s no doubt in Windhorst’s mind that it was more impactful than losing Green for just one game.