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Lowell Cohn: Wounded Warriors put Mark Jackson in a world of hurt (w/video)

  • Golden State Warriors coach Mark Jackson gestures from the sideline during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Atlanta Hawks Friday, March 7, 2014, in Oakland, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

Andre Iguodala is in and out of the lineup with knee tendinitis. The Warriors need Iguodala healthy for veteran leadership, smart passing and great defense. On offense, he's a bust.

David Lee is suffering with a nerve problem in his leg but should be available for the playoffs. The Warriors need Lee for smart, efficient, productive offense and for powerful rebounding. He is not a good one-on-one defender, but he works hard on defense and functions well within a team concept of defense. Chris Mullin operated the same way.

Andrew Bogut has busted ribs. This could be the killer injury for the Warriors. We know he won't play in the first round. His participation in later rounds — if there are later rounds — is strictly TBA, as in iffy.

And, yes, Bogut gets hurt a lot. Not because he's soft. He is a banger — the banger the Warriors need — and bangers bust their body parts. The Warriors will miss his banging in the playoffs.

Think of the team this way. The Warriors have an offensive focus and a defensive focus. Stephen Curry clearly is the offensive focus. He is the best jump shooter I ever saw. Name someone better.

And Bogut is the defensive focus. With Bogut on the floor, teams drive to the hoop at their own peril. He is a shot blocker and a shot changer. He is a shot murderer. He rebounds like crazy and he plays with a snarl on his face which says, "Don't dare enter my zone."

Jackson always says the Warriors are a defensive team. Bogut is the reason for that along with Iguodala, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green. Curry does not make this list. Without Bogut, the Warriors aren't nearly as good on defense. They are vulnerable to opponents driving the lane, making easy buckets, getting offensive rebounds. They aren't as tough.

These injuries, especially Bogut's, have major implications for Jackson's future. If Bogut were around and if Lee and Iguodala were healthy and if the Warriors were to lose in the first round, you might say, "Jackson could not win with this team that is supposedly superior to last season's team. And that is bad."

You might question Jackson's feel for substitutions in a game, for bringing the right guys in at the right time, for the rhythm of the whole thing. And you might conclude Jackson is a certain kind of coach, the kind who can improve a team, change its culture, but he's not the kind who can bring a team to the elite level. You might think the Warriors need someone else to make the Warriors elite. New coach as closer.

And these would be reasonable conclusions.


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