It was a mighty tall task to ask a young Chicago Bulls to walk into Oracle Arena with a lot of confidence. Despite the absence of Kevin Durant and Draymond Green it was almost a certainty to many that the Golden State Warriors would throttle the Bulls. Head coach Steve Kerr even started Jordan Bell (we’ll get to his day...insert all the 3.5M jokes here) and had Quinn Cook as the first guy off the bench to give everyone a picture of how he thought this game would go. Chicago stuck with the Warriors in the first quarter and even led after it, 32-29. But it went all downhill from there. It was tough to watch as Golden State woke up and decided to pound Chicago into the ground. They scored 45, 36, and 33 in the rest of the remaining quarters for the game and it led to a 143-94 demolishing of the Bulls.
Without Durant, it was the Steph Curry show in Oakland. When KD is not on the floor, everything runs through Curry and he has even more freedom to do what he wants on offense. This game against Chicago was just an example of how quickly he can heat up and flip a game on its head. He ended up with 33 points on 10 of 18 shooting and finished with a whopping plus/minus of +39.
It was in the second quarter where he did most of his damage, scoring 26 points and landing the knockout blow on the Bulls.
Off the dribble and in transition is where Curry is at his most dangerous. He’s able to take advantage of defenders not paying 100% attention on him and makes them pay with a quick and accurate release. Here in this play, Curry is in semi-transition and is just crossing the halfway line while being guarded by Jerian Grant. The Warriors have two big men right at the top of the key and it looks like a prime opportunity to run a double screen and test out how well this young Chicago team switches. The two other defenders in this play, Lauri Markkanen and Bobby Portis, responsible for trying to contain Curry after Grant gets screened. Ideally with Markkanen deeper at the time the pick is set, it should be Portis who should step up and try to prevent a three point attempt. However, Portis gets lost in the shuffle in terms of switching after the second pick and is far away from Curry when he comes off the screen. Grant is late coming off the screen and can’t get back in front of Curry in time. With acres of space between him and the Chicago big men, Curry is able to rise up and knock down one of this trademark three-pointers.
Another thing the Warriors and Curry do especially well is move off the ball. There is always someone moving towards the basket for Golden State. Someone to force the defense to think on it’s toes and move certain guys away from certain areas. One lapse and it’s either an easy layup or open three. Both of which are not ideal against this team.
In this possession, Curry is being guarded by Kris Dunn and is moving along the baseline near the three-point corner. As soon as Curry gets to the corner, Zaza Pachulia sets a screen on Dunn, stopping him in his tracks. Meanwhile, on the same side, Klay Thompson also got a screen seconds earlier from Pachulia and catches the ball from Nick Young. With Paul Zipser still recovering from the screen, Thompson is able to take advantage and pump fake. The fake forces Zipser to fly past him and lets Thompson move to his right. As Thompson is moving, so is Curry but in the opposite way. This allows Thompson to pass it off to Curry with again, nobody around him. Dunn is late getting through the screen instead of running around it and with his contest coming too late, it’s another easy three for the Warriors star man.
It’s very tough to expect the Bulls to fully contain the Warriors. This game was a good lesson for Chicago however. In terms of how good they will have to be defensively if they want to contend in the future. They will have to work as a unit to call out all the screens, cuts, or any action the opponent runs. Chicago’s defense hasn’t been horrible this season overall, but giving up 110+ points per game won’t help their stats one bit.
Fred Hoiberg isn’t happy....at all
If you haven’t noticed, Fred Hoiberg is getting more and more candid in each of his post game press conferences. Especially in the ones where the Bulls just got their teeth kicked in. He had a very strong quote to his team in this one:
Hoiberg: “If we don’t find a way to fight through adversity soon, we’re gonna keep getting our ass kicked.”— K.C. Johnson (@KCJHoop) November 25, 2017
More struggles for Felicio
It’s been a season for two guys who the Bulls faithful usually love: Cristiano Felicio and Paul Zipser. While Zipser’s struggles have been noted, it’s almost as bad for the Brazilian big man. He only scored 4 points and grabbed one mere rebound in his 16 minutes. Against the Warriors, he was clearly struggling to rotate over on defense and make any impact on the glass. In reality if you had to choose one game to describe Felicio’s season so far, it would be this one.