OAKLAND — Crunch time has officially reached Golden State and injuries have caught up with the Warriors big men.
The final nine games of the Warriors regular season start Tuesday in Texas with back-to-back games without starters Andrew Bogut and David Lee.
First the Warriors face the Dallas Mavericks, who are tied with Phoenix for the seventh seed in the West, and right on the heels of the Warriors just 1-1/2 games back.
Wednesday, Golden State will go up against the league-leading Spurs who are currently on a franchise-record 18-game winning streak.
Bogut, took a Marc Gasol knee to the groin area Friday against the Grizzlies suffering a pelvic contusion that Warriors coach Mark Jackson said will keep him from making the trip to Texas:
“He will stay here, continue to get treatment and try to get as close to one hundred percent as possible.”
Lee has missed the last two games with a strained right hamstring, and although he will make the trip with the team Jackson said he doesn’t expect he’ll play against Dallas:
“He’s made progress and is feeling better. He’ll make the trip, but I don’t expect him to play tomorrow (Tuesday).”
Jermaine O’Neal would be a next option, but Jackson has recently been sitting the veteran to preserve him for the playoffs.
When SFBay asked if O’Neal would have to sit the tail-end of the back-to-back Jackson said he hadn’t thought about it:
“Anything is possible. I’m not really sure, I haven’t really thought that far ahead. Obviously he knows how much we need him, but its going to be important to see how his body is feeling.”
Looking toward the post-season the big man raising the most questions is Festus Ezeli. In June, Ezeli underwent surgery on his right knee and was given a timeline of being out six to nine months. It’s has been well over nine months and Ezeli still has not done anything with the team in live practice.
Jackson told SFBay Ezeli’s return is getting closer, but continued to stay tight-lipped on a return date:
“I don’t know. He’s continuing to make progress, continuing to work his tail off. He’s running, but hasn’t done anything in practice with the group. He’s getting closer and closer.”
With the Warriors front court so diminished, the duties of crashing the boards and manning the paint will fall to Marreese Speights — averaging 5.9 points and just over three rebounds per game this season — and the smaller Draymond Green — averaging six points and 4.8 rebounds per game.