Would someone please explain why that trade — Monta Ellis for Andrew Bogut — was no good for the Warriors?

We used to hear that all the time, how Ellis was the heart and soul of the Warriors and how Bogut was damaged goods and might never play enough, and how that dumb trade was the Warriors' trademark.

We don't hear that anymore. Monta Ellis — we wish him well — is a nice little player. But Andrew Bogut is a dynamite big player — a giant — and the Warriors have coveted a big, mean, athletic center like Bogut since the Nate Thurmond days. Bogut can rebound, block shots and the man can score.

Keep all that in mind as the Warriors prepare to play the Spurs in San Antonio tonight in the first game of their second-round playoff series. The mere Bogutness of Bogut means the Warriors match the size of the Spurs. They may be bigger than the Spurs in an overall sense, even though the Spurs have center Tim Duncan, one of the greatest players who ever lived and, at his advanced age of 37, is still better than Bogut.

But here's the kicker. Have you noticed in life there's always a kicker? Although the Warriors match up against the Spurs' "bigs," they don't match up against the Spurs' "smalls."


Because the Spurs' smalls are bigger than the Warriors' smalls.

This is getting entirely too complicated.

Let's try again.

San Antonio has a legion of tall, athletic guards/small forwards, and the Warriors may struggle to contain them. They are: Manu Ginobili 6-6, Danny Green 6-6, Kawhi Leonard 6-7, Gary Neal 6-4. That doesn't even count Tony Parker, a shrimp at 6-2 and a sure Hall of Famer.

So, what's the point?

Think back to the Denver series. Nuggets' point guard Ty Lawson would drive the lane, attract two or three defenders, and because he is clever, he would kick the ball out to a shooter. And the shooter would miss.

It won't be that easy against San Antonio. Parker will drive the lane, attract two or three defenders, and because he is clever, he will kick the ball out to a shooter like Ginobili and Ginobili won't miss — most of the time.

And that means, all credit to Bogut, but this series probably will not be decided at center. It will be decided on whether the Warriors can defend the outside shot.

This series will be decided at the end of the day.

Say what?

Yes, at the end of the day.

This gets back to Warriors' coach Mark Jackson, a very good coach who says "at the end of the day" at the beginning of the day, in the middle of the day and, one hopes, at the end of the day.

Call it a Jackson verbal tic. To attend one of Jackson's pregame news conferences is to be inundated by "at the end of the day" all the livelong day. Like: At the end of the day, the better team will win. At the end of the day, the Warriors are a no-excuse team. At the end of the day, Stephen Curry should have been an All Star and the people who didn't vote for him should apologize at the end of the day.

In his news conference before the sixth and final game against the Nuggets, Jackson logged in five at the end of the days in a mere 10 minutes, an unofficial record. He is a charming man and a significant coach and his team is playing lights out any time of day. And he gets the credit.

Gregg Popovich, the coach of the Spurs, is not as enthusiastic as Jackson and I've never heard him say "at the end of the day." In his pregame media confabs, he is as sour as someone who spends his life sucking on a lemon. If you ask something he considers dumb — most things — he gives you a look that says, "Why are you wasting my time?"

He was trained as a spy — or something like that — it's hard to know with this guy. But he's the best coach in the business and he used to be a Warriors' assistant coach and he's great friends with Don Nelson. In his days here, he eagerly would ask what I was reading. I once told him Flannery O'Connor and, as I recall, he read a bunch of her stuff. He's some kind of genius, certainly in basketball.

Mark Jackson is always deferential when he mentions Popovich and is happy to say Popovich is the better coach. Jackson, the consummate diplomat, said the same thing about George Karl.

You can bet Popovich has watched every frame of every film from the Denver series and figured out that deal about kicking out the ball. Not that he needed to figure it out. When he was a Warriors' assistant, I got thrown out of the shoot-around from a Warriors' opponent and I told Popovich and he said, "I don't know why they threw you out. Everyone in this league knows what everyone else does."

Which means he knows what Jackson does and Jackson knows what he does. And although everyone is picking the Spurs to overwhelm the Warriors — maybe even in four games — don't be so sure about that. The Warriors are getting better every game they survive in these playoffs and surprising things may happen at the end of the day.

Two questions for Mark Jackson: If a basketball game ends at 10 p.m. Pacific Time, is that the end of the day? Or must we wait until midnight?

For more on the world of sports in general and the Bay Area in particular, go to the Cohn Zohn at cohn.blogs.pressdemocrat.com. You can reach Staff Columnist Lowell Cohn at lowell.cohn@pressdemocrat.com.