Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
Was intending on watching Friday's game this morning, but wound up only seeing the lopsided score and a lot of highlights of a very impressive win instead. So, coming from that perspective, some random notes from the game.
First thing is Jimmy Butler, as the comments section pointed out (and I won't bother to check), in his last 4 games starting in Luol Deng's absence, Jimmy is averaging a Deng-esque 45 minutes with per-game numbers of 15.5 PTS (45% FG%, 95% FT%), 9.3 REB (4 ORB), 3.3 AST, 1 STL and only 1 TO. It's not only impressive but unique to see a young player that set in his own game and not making mistakes trying to do too much. He's been invaluable in this stretch.
In his recap, Sam Smith gushes and makes an interesting comparison:
Sort of like his best buddy and former college teammate, Wesley Matthews, who developed quickly as a high level NBA shooting guard after being undrafted.
Butler brightened when I mentioned Matthews and he eagerly showed me a few texts from him Friday. He said Matthews always counsels him to not worry about not being noticed or a being a big name but to jump on your opportunity when it comes.
"When he had his chance he capitalized," said Butler, "I feel it’s something I have to do."
Like most (all?) comparisons with Butler, Matthews is a big guard but more of a playmaker/shooter, while Jimmy a superlative rebounder and commits fewer turnovers. But the point is made that Matthews went from undrafted to getting a starting role and long-term contract the very next season. Luckily for the Bulls, Jimmy is still on his rookie deal for 2 more seasons, muahaha.
- One huge edge the Bulls imposed on Golden State was on the glass. Warrriors are top-5 in Defensive Rebound percentage, holding opponents to getting 25% of their own misses. The Bulls OReb% against them last night was over 37%. And we know Butler is a big part of that. I caught the SportsCenter highlights (I have an excuse, I swear) and like the BaB post this week they focused on Butler's ability to get to (or at least tap) those rebound opportunities.
- They also held the Warriors to 4-19 from three. I didn't watch enough to see if that was due to the Bulls D or not, but it would make sense: They've been top-5 in three-pointer defense this season. We also know the Bulls are especially good at limiting the corner-three, and they held the Warriors to 1-4 in that specific shot-type.
- Hinrich had another huge game, his 2nd in 3 contests (bookending that complete dud against Detroit), but I get rashes when I hear Thibs say: "It’s one of the reasons we signed Kirk. He has played both of the positions and played both well." Oh god he's so the shooting guard it's happening.
- As I continue on my season-long disbelief that the Bulls are actually this good, one thing that stuck out was the Bulls lack of success against the good Western conference teams. Sure beating the Heat was great but it was only one game and those entitled jerkos have lots of losses they shouldn't have. And none of us really think the Knicks are that good so the 3-0 record there is meh. The Celtics are trash. I'm exaggerating a bit (of course the Bulls are very good...still don't know to what degree), but before Friday night the Bulls were indeed 0-9 against the top nine teams in the West, and they dominated this one. Mighty impressive.