Hinrich’s absence a big factor for Bulls
Chicago may have been without top scorer Luol Deng in Thursday’s 95-92 Game 6 home loss to Brooklyn, but its loss of Kirk Hinrich for a second straight game may have hurt the team more. Deron Williams has played better over the last pair of Net wins with Hinrich out of commission, which is a major reason why the series has swung in Brooklyn’s favor.
Hinrich last appeared on the floor in last Saturday’s Game 4 triple-overtime classic. He played 60 minutes, scored 18 points and dished out 14 assists. Chicago raced out to a 3-1 series lead. Hinrich hasn’t played and the Bulls haven’t won since then. Deron Williams has also been more productive against Hinrich’s undersized understudy, Nate Robinson, and it’s shown in his stats in addition to the wins and losses:
|Deron Williams||Minutes||FG %||3 FG %||Points||Assists||FTA|
There isn’t much of a difference between Williams’ field goal and scoring numbers, but he’s been able to get an additional 2.75 assists per game and is getting to the line with more consistency. And it’s not just Hinrich’s defense that impacts the Bulls so negatively.
“Yes, it was big,” Nets coach P.J. Carlesimo said of Hinrich’s injury. “It affects the game because he’s one of their best players, not just as a defender.”
Hinrich’s offensive impact rose during his four games on the floor for Chicago, improving on his regular season averages like an impactful veteran should.
|Kirk Hinrich||Minutes||FG %||3 FG %||Points||Assists||Steals|
So Hinrich’s impact has been noticed on both sides of the floor. Chicago is “hopeful” Hinrich will play in Saturday night’s Game 7, and he could be the x-factor for either team dependent on whether he plays or not.
Healthy Bogut does in Denver
David Lee may have only played one minute, giving Golden State an emotional charge during Thursday night’s Game 6. But it was Andrew Bogut’s sensational play that allowed the Warriors to defeat Denver 92-88 and take the series in a dramatic 4-2 upset.
It was Bogut, finally healthy and living up to his potential after coming to the Bay Area in a trade that jettisoned fan favorite Monta Ellis to Milwaukee, who stole the show and fulfilled the team’s vision of a successful run of sustained success for a long-moribund franchise. Bogut scored 14 points and took down 21 rebounds, the most for a Warrior player in a postseason game since 1987, which is an incredible accomplishment against a Denver team that was one of the top rebounding teams this season.
Golden State is pretty set in the backcourt, with Stephen Curry leading the charge and Klay Thompson and Jarrett Jack doing a better job of complementing Curry’s skill-set than Ellis ever could. The Warriors have been looking for a frontline big man for years, so they took a calculated risk on dealing for Bogut. He was injured a lot while Ellis was continuing his scoring ways with the Bucks, so folks grew frustrated with the deal on the Golden State end. Bogut was hurt on and off throughout the season, playing in fits and starts with a minutes quota and many a day off.
“It’s very emotional for me because I’ve had a nightmare of a year,” said Bogut.
The team’s patience and due-dilligence with Bogut’s injury is finally playing off. And when Bogut plays extended minutes, the W’s are a tough team to beat. Golden State is 15-8 when Bogut plays at least 25 minutes in a game, and had a pretty good regular season, but he’s been an absolute monster against the Nuggets in the postseason.
So Golden State moves on to face a San Antonio team with Tim Duncan and Tiago Splitter, among others, down low. The two teams split its four-game season series, and if Bogut is healthy and playing at the level he played against Denver, perhaps Golden State will make its second round series more interesting than people would expect.
Shlomo Sprung loves advanced statistics and the way they explain what happens on the court. He is also the web editor of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle. A 2011 graduate of Columbia University’s Journalism School, he has previously worked for the New York Knicks, The Sporting News, Business Insider and other publications. His website is SprungOnSports.com. You can follow him on Twitter.