Stephen Curry reacted to bringing back the team’s starting center:
The 33-year-old post player averaged 6.1 points, 5.9 rebounds and 1.9 assists while playing just 18.1 minutes per contest. He also shot a career-best 53.4 percent from the floor with opponents forced to focus on the Dubs’ numerous offensive weapons.
In addition, Pachulia embraced his role as the energy provider for the star-studded group, adding value in ways that don’t necessarily show up in the box score.
Pachulia did find himself at the center of a controversy after a hard close-out on San Antonio Spurs small forward Kawhi Leonard in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals caused the MVP candidate to roll his ankle and miss the rest of the series, a Warriors sweep.
“My approach to this game for 14 years that I’ve been in the league is to play hard and [give] 100 percent of whatever I have,” Pachulia said. “So I don’t agree with the calls that I’m a dirty player. I’m not a dirty player. I love this game, and I’m playing hard. That’s what I was taught since day one.”
Golden State went on to win its second title in three years with a five-game triumph over the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA Finals. It gave the center his first championship ring.
Ultimately, Pachulia has always played with a hard-nosed approach and it’s unlikely he’ll change his style of play this late in his career. It fit in well within the Warriors’ current structure, so it’s no surprise the team decided to bring him back.
He’s never going to take on a massive role in terms of minutes or offensive usage. Golden State features too deep of a roster for the center to become overly involved. That said, he should continue to provide solid per-minute production for the perennial contenders.
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