OAKLAND, Calif. — Andrew Bogut and Harrison Barnes return to the site of last year's ultimate failure in the NBA Finals when the Dallas Mavericks visit the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday night.
Bogut and Barnes were members of the Golden State team that won a championship in 2014-15 and came within one victory of a repeat last June against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The two frontcourt starters were salary-cap casualties in the wake of the runner-up finish when the Warriors exhausted basically all available funds on signing free agent Kevin Durant away from the Oklahoma Thunder for $54.3 million over two years.
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Bogut was dealt to the Mavericks in July in a swap of future second-round picks, with Dallas agreeing to absorb the remaining $11 million on the veteran center's contract.
Bogut, the anchor of Golden State's defense in recent years, contributed an average of 5.4 points, 7.0 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.6 blocks to the Warriors' cause last season.
Just seven games into the new year, Warriors holdover Draymond Green assured Monday night that Bogut is missed.
“Defense is just like offense; it's a chemistry thing,” Green told reporters after Monday's 116-106 home victory over New Orleans. “Last year we had Bogut back there protecting the rim. He's one of the best at that — maybe even THE best. Now we have Zaza (Pachulia). He's a good positional player, but he's different. It's something we have to adjust to.”
Barnes, who averaged 11.7 points per game for the Warriors last season, has been replaced in the starting lineup by Durant. The former Golden State first-round pick got a four-year, $94.4 million contract from the Mavericks shortly after it became clear the Warriors were moving in a different direction.
“I had a great experience at Golden State,” Barnes told reporters over the summer when asked what returning to Oakland as a visiting player would be like. “They were a first-class organization. The fans there were great. It won't be anything bitterness or anything like that.”
Barnes already is thriving in a new system. He's scored in double figures in every game, including 31 for the second time this season in Tuesday's 109-97 victory over the Lakers in Los Angeles, and has also scored 34 en route to a 22.3-point average.
He never scored more than 21 for the Warriors last season, and was held to fewer than 10 points on 24 different occasions.
While Barnes has been a boost for the Mavericks, so has Durant for the Warriors. He has topped 20 points in all seven games, running his streak of 20 or more points to 71 straight contests.
For the second game in a row, the Warriors will be seeing an opponent that's at far less than full strength.
With Dirk Nowitzki (Achilles), Deron Williams (calf) and Devin Harris (toe) all nursing injuries, the Mavericks (2-5) lost their first five games before getting into the win column Sunday night with an overtime triumph over Milwaukee.
Dallas made it two straight Tuesday with their 11th consecutive victory over Los Angeles behind a strong performance from JJ Barea, who recorded 18 points, eight assists and seven rebounds.
The Warriors (5-2) are coming off a win over a Pelicans team that was without Jrue Holiday and Tyreke Evans. Stephen Curry set an NBA record with 13 3-pointers in the victory.