Bogut: Big part of my life was in Milwaukee
Andrew Bogut: "There's no pressure on me offensively, like there was in Milwaukee.'' (AP)
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Somewhere inside Andrew Bogut is a grin of satisfaction, internal recognition of personal triumph. He's healthy again. He's playing well. He's on a winning team. And on Tuesday night, he'll make first return visit to his NBA cradle.
Milwaukee, where the air comes at folks like razor blades made of ice.
Not that it should matter for Bogut and the Warriors. With a nine-game win streak, including the first five of the current road trip, they're generating their own heat.
Bogut, after nearly two full years or injuries and ongoing rehab, is happy to reassemble a career that began with such promise when he was drafted No. 1 overall by the Bucks in 2005. The 7-foot center was a regular in the lineup and considered a franchise centerpiece.
Two devastating injuries later, the Bucks gave up on him, dealing Bogut to the Warriors in March 2012 for Monta Ellis, Kwame Brown and Ekpe Udoh. Ellis has moved on to Dallas, Udoh is a part-timer and Brown is out of the league.
The Warriors at 23-13 and flying high on a nine-game win streak. The Bucks, by contrast, are an NBA-worst 7-26 and in turmoil. It's evident who won the trade.
"He's healthy for the first time and playing like the 'Bogs' that was (in Milwaukee),'' Jackson said after the Tuesday morning shootaround. "He's a big-time defender, incredible IQ for the game of basketball, our anchor on the defensive end. We're extremely fortunate and excited to have him.''
Bogut ranks ninth in the league in rebounding (10.2) and blocks (1.74). Almost never the primary option on offense, he has been highly efficient, shooting 62.4 percent – 74.2 percent on the road trip.
"There's no pressure on me offensively, like there was in Milwaukee,'' Bogut said. "I can focus solely on commanding the paint, blocking shots and being a defender and score every now and then. It's great playing with a team that's fairly balanced at every position. I'm very excited playing with this team and with where we're headed right now.''
Compared to a Bucks squad battling dissension – center Larry Sanders and guard Gary Neal quarreled in front of witnesses after a loss at Phoenix last Saturday – the Warriors are an oasis of tranquility. No doubt Bogut is in a better place.
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MATCHUPS TO WATCH: Stephen Curry vs. Brandon Knight. The point guards lead their respective teams and are the top scoring threats. Curry has been the vastly superior player this season, but Knight's strength and determination pose a challenge.
Klay Thompson vs O.J. Mayo. Each shooting guard is capable of getting hot and carrying his team. Thompson has done it with some regularity, Mayo very infrequently. His 40.1 percent shooting is right in line with Milwaukee's team percentage of 42.5, 27th in the 30-team NBA.
INJURY UPDATE: For the Warriors, centers Jermaine O'Neal (right wrist surgery) and Festus Ezeli (right knee surgery) are out indefinitely.
For the Bucks, forward John Henson (ankle), who has been their best player this season, is out.
SERIES HISTORY: The Warriors have lost the last three, and seven of the last eight games. They have not won in Milwaukee since January 2008.