2011-12 Game Preview #2: Bulls at Golden State Warriors

[Thanks to runningman for today's game preview (sign up!). I hope all of them are merely half as good as this one -ed.]

I had a ten-thousand word treatise prepared on what Mark Jackson's phrase, "Hand down, man down," actually means, and how we can apply those lessons to everyday life. However, with harsh new intellectual property laws being discussed in Congress, it seemed safer to avoid saying that trademarked catchphrase 53 times. When the new Warriors coach launched his iconic clothing line, he said, "My job as an NBA analyst is to tell it like it is and bring insider knowledge and a bit of flair to NBA coverage. I’m just happy there is now proof that people listen to me!" It's odd that a TV analyst doubted that people listened to him, as I didn't think Nielsen tracked mute button usage. Now, he's got a captive audience to share his insider knowledge with.

The plan was for Golden State to have a new defensive mindset, as their fast-paced all-offense style made for great TV, but poor results in the win column (They were 5th in pace, 27th in defensive rating, 10th in attendance, 11th place in the Western Conference). In an attempt to accomplish that, they chased Tyson Chandler, then signed restricted free-agent DeAndre Jordan to a 4 year, 43 million offer sheet, which the Clippers matched. Golden State then moved straight to plan K and signed Kwame Brown for 1 year at 7 million. With their defense now solidified, they shipped Louis Amundson to the Indiana Pacers in exchange for Brandon Rush.

Initial returns are mixed. In the Warriors' opening game against the Clippers... Deandre Jordan had 8 blocks, Kwame Brown played 7 minutes, David Lee played a lot of center resulting in him fouling out of a good performance in 35 minutes, Stephen Curry showed that it's possible to have a negative PER, Monta Ellis shot 6-19, and the center they were desperately trying to replace (Biedrins) went 5-5 with 8 rebounds and 3 blocks in only 20 minutes. Surprisingly, Golden State lost by 19. Their pace was slower, though.

The Bulls could still lose. Explanation after the jump

The simplest reason the Bulls could lose, is that they lost at Golden State last year. It was one of only two double-digit losses the Bulls suffered in their last 60+ games (The first person to name the other gets a link to the "hand down, man down" store). That game established a formula for beating this Chicago Bulls team. Have two quick defenders trap Rose hard, way above the 3 point line, and make someone else beat you. Stephen Curry and Monta Ellis harried Rose into neutralizing his 10 assists with his season's second-highest number of turnovers, 9. (First person to name the game where he had the most turnovers wins an mp3 of Mark Jackson saying both of his catchphrases.) After watching the Bulls at Lakers, there is no evidence that they have found a way to make teams pay for that strategy. Rip has been here for a week already, what's taking him so long to solve all the Bulls' problems?

Both teams played last yesterday. One would assume that the Bulls having to make a flight after the game cancels out GSW playing 5 hours later than they did. By the time the Bulls got to their hotel, the Warriors were likely at home in their own beds.

The simplest reason the Bulls should win is that they're the better team. Also, Noah didn't play in the last loss, and he's a clear upgrade in moving the ball, over Kurt Thomas. Boozer will struggle to guard David Lee in a pick and roll with Curry or Ellis, but that can be easily solved by putting Noah on Lee and having Boozer stick Andris Biedrins, who's range is only slightly further away from the basket than Asik's. Conversely, Boozer should be able to score on Lee, who is not a shot blocker. Golden State's guards are gamblers, especially Ellis, which will result in open shots on many possessions. Though GSW may have created the playbook on how to defend Rose, there's no guarantee their coach has seen it. He famously said that he's not going to be one of those coaches that stays in the gym all day or watches a lot of film. Those coaches are guilty of "false hustle". Instead he's just going to have his team focus on "winning plays". If Thibs has seen some of those quotes, I hope he took it personally.

If the Bulls limit their turnovers they should win comfortably. However, even winning by 50 won't make them better than Miami, who beat the defending champions by 30, 105-94.

The game is at 9:30 CST on WGN. Golden State's blog is here.

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