Programming note: Warriors-Kings coverage begins Wednesday night at 6:30 on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area with Warriors Pregame Live
OAKLAND – Among the Warriors boarding the bus to Sacramento on Tuesday was center Andrew Bogut. Coach Mark Jackson is hoping, perhaps even praying, his big man wasn't going along just for the ride up I-80.
Bogut hasn't played well this month, and because of his ailing left shoulder hasn't played at all the past two weeks. It's not coincidental the team is 2-3 in February.
If Bogut doesn't recover soon, the Warriors' postseason odds take a massive hit insofar as his health, more than any other existing issue, will dictate whether they're jockeying for seeding or battling to get into the playoffs.
"It's very important for us to have him healthy and whole," Jacksons said after practice Tuesday. "Right now, he's still recovering."
If Bogut is unable to take the court Wednesday night at Sleep Train Arena, the Kings suddenly become a lot more imposing. Sacramento center DeMarcus Cousins is as talented as any big man in the league, a load for any center and surely a daunting task for backup Jermaine O'Neal, who is trying to round into shape after wrist surgery in December.
Fortunately for Golden State, Cousins is questionable/doubtful with a hip flexor injury.
"With (Bogut) possibly not in, it takes a big part of who we are and what we do out of the equation," Jackson said. "Dealing with a guy like DeMarcus, who is a big time player and having an outstanding year, it creates some problems.
"Then you go to Jermaine, who is just coming back. So it should be a lot of fun."
That last comment was punctuated by laughter, mocking the gravity of the matter. Then again, Jackson also realizes when the Warriors return home on Thursday, Dwight Howard and the Rockets will be waiting.
Understand, the Warriors' improvement on defense is mostly attributed to Bogut's work in the paint than of offseason acquisition Andre Iguodala on the perimeter. Bogut is one of five or six big men who can win games with defense and rebounding.
When he's off the floor, opponents attack the hoop. They have success. Their efficiency goes up.
When Bogut is on the floor, he's as good at protecting the rim as David Lee is at scoring in the paint.
So all of this is so, um, inconvenient for a team needing a fast start coming out of the All-Star break. Unless O'Neal miraculously turns the clock back six or seven years, the Warriors begin the final two months in deep trouble in the middle.
Moreover, it puts a bit of pressure on general manager Bob Myers and CEO Joe Lacob. Yes, they're scouring the market. Yes, they realize the team has shortcomings. No, they can't offer much in the way of draft picks, which trade partners covet as the trade deadline (Thursday noon) approaches.
And then there is, with any trade, the adjustment factor, as O'Neal points out. With 29 games remaining, that's a risk.
"Can a team always be better, get better? Absolutely," he said. "But what do you give up to get that next piece? Do you disrupt the chemistry of the team at this point of the season to get another player?
"This team was good enough to win at the beginning of the season. "Same team, so we should be good enough to win now."
With Bogut, the Warriors should be good enough. Without him, they may not be. They certainly won't defend as well. And that's kind of important.
Which is why Myers and Lacob also are hoping Bogut, who had a bad reaction to the cortisone shot he took last week, can put on a jersey. Sooner, rather than later.
And why they likely are praying right along with the coach.