For the past few seasons, the Grizzlies' two-headed frontcourt monster of Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph has been an absolute nightmare for the Warriors, as they have been dominated both in the paint and on the glass.
The last time that Golden State walked away from a victory against Memphis was on November 3, 2010. The players that started at center in their eight meetings since then include Andris Biedrins, Festus Ezeli, Dan Gadzuric, Jeremy Tyler and Ekpe Udoh.
Safe to say, Andrew Bogut is one enormous upgrade over those five players.
Although Bogut did start in the Warriors matchup with the Grizzlies earlier this season on November 2, 2012, he was held to a very limited 18 minutes and was still feeling pain in his surgically-repaired left ankle.
Now that Bogut is fully healthy and back playing in all games except for back-to-backs, he has already made a huge impact on both sides of the ball for Golden State.
In his four games since returning, Bogut is averaging 10.3 PPG, 7.3 RPG and 2.8 BPG. Considering that Andris Biedrins and Festus Ezeli combine for 3.2 PPG, 6.9 RPG and 1.8 BPG, the surge suddenly injected into the center position is well-needed.
The defensive presence and massive size of Bogut will give the Warriors their best shot at containing 2013 All-Star Zach Randolph and All-Star snub Marc Gasol in years.
Head coach Mark Jackson chose to use Andrew Bogut in the game on Friday against Memphis as opposed to their game the following day against Dallas for a reason. The lack of a dominant center has been the key factor in the Grizzlies' recent dominance over the Warriors. Bogut provides the missing piece to the puzzle.
Friday night could very well be a preview of a first-round playoff battle since Denver, Memphis and Golden State are all within one game of each other for the fourth, fifth and sixth spots in the Western Conference standings, respectively.
It is important that Golden State establishes themselves versus this Grizzlies team and proves that they have what it takes to compete should the two teams meet later in the playoffs.
Friday night will be a good measuring stick to see how the Warriors' true frontcourt of David Lee and Andrew Bogut hold their own against one of the strongest and most talented frontcourts in the league.
If Bogut plays as well as he has so far in his return, look for this Warriors-Grizzlies matchup to be a much different game than we have become accustomed to in the past.
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