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Warriors vs. Jazz preview: Andrew Bogut expects to play for Golden State

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Andrew Bogut expects to play tonight against the Jazz, but should the Warriors consider starting Festus Ezeli anyway?

Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports
Matchup
Golden State Warriors
26-1 (12-0 HOME)
vs
Utah Jazz
12-14 (5-8 ROAD)
Details
12/22/15
Oracle Arena — Oakland, CA
7:30 p.m. PST
CSN Bay Area | KNBR 680 AM
Blog Buddy: SLC Dunk
Projected Starters
Stephen Curry G Raul Neto
Klay Thompson G Rodney Hood
Brandon Rush
F Gordon Hayward
Draymond Green F Trey Lyles
Andrew Bogut C Derrick Favors
Key Injuries
Harrison Barnes (ankle) - Out
Kevon Looney (hip) - Out
Rudy Gobert (MCL) - Out
Dante Exum - Out

★★★

After leaving Friday's rematch against the Milwaukee Bucks early with back pain, Rusty Simmons of the S.F. Chronicle reports that Golden State Warriors center Andrew Bogut is expected to play tonight against the Utah Jazz at Oracle Arena.

But with the Jazz missing Rudy Gobert — who had 13 points and 11 rebounds in the first meeting between these two in Utah — you have to wonder whether it might be better to either rest Bogut or bring him off the bench.

And with Festus Ezeli playing relatively well, you have to wonder if there's still any thought being given to bringing Bogut off the bench permanently.

ESPN's Ethan Sherwood Strauss brought up the point on Twitter on Monday and I think it's as worthy of consideration now as it was when Ezeli was "auditioning" for the job when Bogut was missing games earlier this season.

Here's the thing that I feel some people are missing when arguing against this idea: bringing Bogut off the bench does not mean he can't play with the starters, particularly if things aren't going well. What it means is that if things are going well and the Warriors go up big quick and stay up big, they could rest Bogut and give minutes to one of their reserve bigs; if things are going poorly, the Warriors can bring Bogut in the game to play with the starting unit. There's nothing that demands a team platoons first and second units — mixing and matching is allowed.

Given that we can probably expect the Warriors to win most of their regular season games by a significant margin, starting Ezeli would a) give the rotation some semblance of consistency and b) find a few more unplanned days of rest for Bogut to keep him fresh for the postseason.

And if it sounds like disrespect to a Jazz team that played the Warriors very well in their first meeting, consider that the Jazz lost six of eight games after they lost Gobert to a MCL injury. Utah enters tonight's game having won two straight, but consider that Phoenix was tired while playing their third game in four nights and Denver isn't exactly elite — the Warriors can probably manage against a Jazz team without their best defensive rebounder by percentage and best shot blocker of significance. And without Gobert's length defensively, things should open up a bit for the Warriors offensively — the Jazz played about as well defensively as anyone has but Gobert played 37 minutes.

As we learned last week, it's dangerous to overlook an opponent even if we expect the Warriors to obliterate them out of some sense of revenge. So let's just hope they come in fresh and ready to play after a few days off and the Cleveland Cavaliers coming up for a highly anticipated Christmas Day meeting.