OAKLAND — Before the Warriors took off on their five-game trip last week, coming off an uplifting win over San Antonio, it made sense to wonder if they were better without center Andrew Bogut.
A reasonable question, considering the Warriors are 6-6 when Bogut plays. Three of the wins came against lowly Phoenix, and four of the losses were to big, physical teams (Memphis twice, Utah, Sacramento) against which Bogut was supposed to make a difference.
But as the Warriors come home licking their wounds, losers of four straight, you could argue they win a couple of those games if Bogut were in the lineup.
Clearly, the question of whether the Warriors are better without Bogut is complicated. Golden State does enjoy certain advantages when Bogut is not in the lineup, but it seems obvious the Warriors' best chance of doing any real damage is with a healthy Bogut.
"We're a different team (with Bogut)," Warriors coach Mark Jackson said. "What he brings to the table — his ability to pass, to defend the low post, to protect the rim, set screens ... his ability to score on the low block — we certainly miss that."
Of course, getting Bogut healthy has proved to be quite the challenge. He's missed the last six games with back spasms caused by a protruding disk, and the Warriors say there is no timetable for his return.
Without Bogut, the Warriors (33-27) have scored numerous impressive wins: at Miami, twice against the Clippers, home against Oklahoma City and San Antonio.
But with Bogut, the Warriors have yet to make such a mark.
The primary reason, simply, is chemistry.
Without Bogut, the Warriors are undersized, and they know it. Forced to rely on each other on defense, they've developed a cohesiveness.