[Thanks Paddyfairview for today's game preview -yfbb]
If you tuned in to Warriors-Clippers at just the right time last night (say, as the Clips were holding one of multiple 23-point leads), you may have been struck by a crazy thought: what if the Warriors lose? What if LA-B does what we've all been assuming would be our job, and defeats the undefeated? What if this is the moment Golden State stumbles?
Were you sucked in? Me too. I thought we'd see a crack in the façade or maybe discover some Achilles' heel. In retrospect, I suppose everyone is susceptible to Chris Paul going 4-4 from deep (and 7-7 overall) in the first quarter. Everyone has a weakness for a team shooting 72% and not turning the ball over for twelve straight minutes. It was a great start for the Clips, but sooner or later the Law of Averages was going to have its way. (Just not, you know, with Steph Curry, who kicked it out of bed this morning for eating crackers.)
I guess we should have known. But whatever - as Derrick says, ‘only God can judge me', right?
You're just all so fucking stupid.— God (@TheTweetOfGod) November 18, 2015
OK, fine. We deserve that for doubting the Champs. But don't despair yet! If the game yesterday seemed Fated, remember that that plays right into the Bulls' hands. After all, what twist of fate has been more reliable in the NBA the past few years than your Chicago Bullies decimating the historical aspirations of their opponents? The Dubs are a frightening, well-oiled machine, and no lead is safe - but as long as they're perfect, Streakbusters is in effect.
Let's look at the Matchups:
PG: Kirk Hinrich vs. Stephen Curry: Oh yeah, baby, let that sink in. Rose is OUT, which means apparently his "laser treatment" didn't work. With Brooks also out, there's a whole lotta Hinrich coming your way, so, I dunno, pray. He played well in Phoenix on Wednesday, scoring efficiently and doing at least a token job of running the offense; he also celebrated the recent 40th birthday of Jason Williams by throwing a behind-the-back pass so far off target it landed near Nogales and was captured by a Border Militia. This game's on National TV again, so if he's got anything left in the tank, we'll get it. Otherwise...there's always E'twaun Moore? EDGE DUBS, DUH
SG: Jimmy Butler vs. Klay Thompson: Klay's regressed toward the mean a bit after last year's jump (38% from 3, 13.6 PER) , although he did keep the Warriors comeback alive with a nice run late in Thursday's game. With a likely-exhausted Kirk guarding him, we may see an uptick toward the end of the night. Butler will have his hands full guarding Hurricane Steph, but he's been winning this argument for a while now. EDGE BULLS.
SF: Dougie/Will Robinson vs. Harrison Barnes: Doug had maybe his most impressive game of the season Wednesday, partially because of a few offensive moves he showed but mostly because of his less-horrific D. He also had one of the Bulls two (!) own-baskets in the game. We should be petrified to see him out there against this GSW offense, and I suspect Fred will go with Tony. This would be a great game for T to have one of his random flashes of competence, but I think we should assume he'll continue to be LOST IN SPACE. Barnes' numbers are up across the board, and though they don't necessarily jump out at you (34.1% from 3, 15.3 PER), it's still an easy EDGE WARRIORS.
PF: The Great Houdini vs. Draymond Green: Green is the one who got away for Thibs, a perfect, defense-first hard-hat guy who grew an offense and developed into the Noah-figure for Golden State. As you probably know, we could have had him at #29 in 2012, but instead took Marquis Teague, evidently because of his Twitter-upside. Draft record is the one thing it's hard to bitch at GarPax about, but this one hurts. As for Niko, he still over-helps consistently on defense, but more strangely seems to be having trouble developing confidence in this offense - his disappearing acts have become legendary. Again, this would be an excellent night for him to turn it on - in fact a monster game from him might be the Bulls' only real hope. EDGE WARRIORS.
C: Pau Gasol vs. Andrew Bogut: Bogut is posting a 67.5 TS% alongside a 20.7 PER, and adding 2.6 blocks per 36. Pau's putting up 2.5, and his PER is actually 19.5 -thought that may highlight the biases of the stat more than it illuminates his play. I don't think the formula factors in any sort of specific adjustment for "trots along behind driving guards like world's largest golden retriever." He'll get burned if he tries that tonight. Not metaphorically, I mean literally. By the fire coming out of Steph's ass. He did shoot well and got us off to a good start against Phoenix, though, so let's say EDGE BULLS. I'm factoring in the lots of Noah FredBurg should give us, particularly to close.
Coach: Fred vs. Luke Walton: Heh. I used to live with a couple Laker fans who made this guy a recurring punch line around the house. Commentators have been jokingly up-in-arms about Kerr getting GS's wins even while he's out, but I think that's probably as it should be. EDGE BULLS
Bench: I have no word on Shaun Livingston, who missed last night's game in LA, and that could actually be important. With our non-Jimmy guard rotation so dire, having him miss the game could help keep things even with the bench on the floor. But hey, what am I saying, it's Shaun Livingston. I'm glad the guy can still play basketball at all. As far as edge - as long as Joakim Noah is on our bench, it's EDGE BULLS. Damn your dispassionate logic straight to hell.
Alright, enjoy folks. Game's at 9:30 on ESPN.
Trash talking goes: here