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The two best centers when it comes to defending without fouling are Al Horford and Vucevic, and that has been the case each of the last few years. This season so far, Vucevic is averaging just 1.7 fouls per game, which for someone who plays as many minutes as he does in a starting role is not only rare, it’s potentially historic. Only two centers all time have started in at least 60 games, averaged a minimum of 33 minutes of playing time a night and committed 1.7 fouls per game or less, per Stathead. They are Mike Gminski, who in 1988-89 with the Sixers averaged 1.7 fouls and 33.4 minutes with 82 starts, and Bynum, who in 2011-12 with the Lakers averaged 1.7 fouls and 35.2 minutes with 60 starts.
Borrego liked the contrast of styles: the run-and-gun Nuggets against the behemoth Lakers, starting the Pau Gasol-Andrew Bynum mega-frontcourt. Bynum averaged 17 points and 12 rebounds per game for the series, and put up a triple-double — including 10 blocked shots — in the Lakers’ Game 1 win. “A lot of our guys probably don’t even know Andrew Bynum,” Borrego said. The series was also incredibly physical. The offensive teams rebounded almost 37% of all misses, a mark that would lead the league today by a laughable margin. The teams combined for 47 offensive rebounds in the Lakers’ 96-87 win in Game 7; Gasol had six — all in a row — on one pivotal fourth-quarter possession. “Part of this is to show them what physical playoff basketball looks like,” Borrego said. “This is where we want to get to someday. Let’s study it.”