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Bogut has point to prove in NBA playoffs
By Peter Mitchell
17:45 AEST Fri Apr 19 2013

Few players have more to prove in the NBA playoffs than Andrew Bogut.

The 2.13 metre, 120kg Golden State Warriors centre has doubters scattered across the US, including plenty of Warriors fans who still rue the day last year when the team announced it was sending beloved guard Monta Ellis to Milwaukee in a trade for Bogut.

Bogut's left ankle, which underwent microfracture surgery a year ago, forced the big Australian to miss 42 of the Warriors' 85 regular season games, giving the doubters plenty of ammunition while venting on blogs and San Francisco talkback sports radio.

But, with Bogut making a return from the injury on Wednesday to help the Warriors easily beat the Portland Trailblazers in the final game of the regular season, the big man finally has a chance to prove himself.

"We expect him to show up and do big things for us," Warriors head coach Mark Jackson said after the Portland win.

The victory secured the sixth play-off slot in the NBA's Western Conference for the Warriors and matches them in a best-of-seven game series against the third-seeded Denver Nuggets, a team full of exciting talent, but with a history of underperforming in the post-season.

Bogut said his ankle pulled up well after the Portland game, describing it "as good as it's going to get right now".

"I wanted to at least get some minutes and, obviously, play in the play-offs," he told reporters.

As well as having the "injury-prone" tag, another knock on Bogut among the US media and sports fans is his failure to get the Bucks regularly into the playoffs.

Bogut came into the NBA with plenty of hype as the number one draft pick in 2005, but the Bucks made the playoffs just twice in seven seasons - 2005/06 and 2009/10 - and both times they were easily knocked out in the first round.

Bogut was playing the best basketball of his career in 2009/10, however late in the regular season while attempting a fast break dunk he crashed to the floor, dislocating his right elbow, breaking his right hand and spraining his wrist.

With Bogut out, that doomed the Bucks' playoff chances and was the beginning of his reputation for being injury-prone.

"The last two injuries I've had are just sheer luck," Bogut told AAP.

" I fell on someone's foot and the other I fell off the ring.

"Without those two we wouldn't be having this (injury-prone) conversation right now."

The Warriors are potent offensively with plenty of scorers, headed by guard Stephen Curry, who broke the NBA record for most three-pointers in a season with 272.

Bogut gives the team a huge defensive presence.

"He can protect the paint," Jackson said.

"He can rebound.

"He is a presence on the offensive end. That's why we got him."

If the Warriors upset the Nuggets, Bogut could end up playing fellow Australian Olympic squad member Patrick Mills, whose number two-seeded San Antonio Spurs have drawn seventh-seed Los Angeles Lakers in the first round.

Whereas Bogut will start for the Warriors, Mills is part of the Spurs' deep bench, averaging just 11 minutes a game.

Game one of the Warriors-Nuggets series is in Denver on Sunday AEST.

Game one of Spurs-Lakers is on Monday AEST in San Antonio.


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