"We have more than enough to win with."
This is one of Tom Thibodeau's favorite mantras, and a line we've heard over and over again this season. No matter the circumstances, no matter how short-handed, Thibs is not one to make excuses. Whomever is in uniform on a given night must "do their job" and compete as hard as they can. His players usually follow suit, almost never offering up excuses for poor play.
But even Thibs cracked a bit after the despicable 42-point loss to the Kings on Wednesday. He still uttered his infamous line, but there was noticeable hesitation in his voice. And it's because the past few weeks, the Bulls really haven't had more than enough to win with.
Thibs and the Bulls won't get any relief when they take on the Warriors Friday night. There was hope that Kirk Hinrich would be back in the lineup, but he's out once again with a foot injury. We finally found out yesterday that the injury is a stress reaction, and apparently it swelled up again overnight.
The Bulls certainly need Hinrich to heal up ASAP, as the offense has gone completely AWOL the past five games with him out. Yes, the Bulls weren't some kind of offensive juggernaut beforehand (with Kirk in or out of the lineup), but these last five games have been spectacularly awful. 38.4 percent shooting overall, 29.0 percent from three, 84.8 points per game. Makes me want to throw up.
The defense hasn't been much better. The Bulls are allowing 99.4 points points per game over the last five and opponents are shooting 49.1 percent over that stretch. The Bulls are obviously missing Taj Gibson in this regard (he's still out, by the way), but they're missing Hinrich too. As much as I think Kirk's an overrated defender, he's still much better than Nate Robinson at disrupting the flow of a team's offense. With Stephen Curry and Jarrett Jack on the docket, it sure would have been nice to have Hinrich out there to at least try and stop them.
I also have to mention the fact that Hinrich had arguably his best game of the season when the Bulls smoked the Warriors 103-87 at the United Center on Jan. 25. In that game, Hinrich had a season-high 25 points, nailing 8-of-11 shots overall and 6-of-7 from deep. He outplayed Curry by a pretty wide margin, a notion I would have scoffed at if somebody predicted that beforehand. Ah, January, the days when the Bulls actually looked like a good basketball team and Hinrich wasn't consistently stuck in a well.
And how have the Warriors fared since that game? Well, it has been quite the roller coaster. Golden State is just 11-13 since Jan. 25, a stretch which included losing streaks of six and four in a row. However, they have won four of their last six and are coming off a 105-97 victory over the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday.
Curry had 31 points and eight assists in the victory, as he continues to impress in his fourth NBA season. On the season, Curry is eighth in the league in scoring at 22.2 points per game and recently just took over the three-point shooting lead from Kyle Korver. And just a few weeks ago, Curry dropped 54 points at The Garden. It was in a loss, yes, but it was still one hell of a riveting performance.
This game will be the last of a seven-game home stand for the Warriors, who have been pretty darn good at Oracle Arena all season. Golden State is 22-9 on their home floor this year, mostly thanks to how much better they play defensively at home. The Warriors do play slightly better offensively at Oracle, but their defensive rating is 7.1 points per 100 possessions better at home than on the road. That doesn't really bode well for a Bulls team that has been struggling so much on offense.
This could certainly turn into another ugly beat down if the Bulls aren't careful. Considering how things have gone lately and how the Bulls have generally played in Golden State in recent years, I'm almost counting on it. Pretty depressing.
But even if you're not feeling good about this game, that shouldn't stop any of y'all in the Chicago area from coming to The Bulls Show Watch Party tonight at 6 Corners Bar. It's on 1950 W. North Ave. in the Wicker Park/Bucktown neighborhood and there will be prizes! Plus, both I and yfBB are planning on being there, so you would get to meet your favorite bloggers/podcasters. At the very least, we can laugh at the defense of Carlos Boozer and David Lee while drowning our Bulls sorrows in *insert liquor of your choice.* And even if you're not into the whole drinking thing, come out anyway!
Tip-off is at 9:30 and for more on the Warriors, check out Golden State of Mind.
All stats from NBA.com