Without their top two offensive players in Jimmy Butler and Dwyane Wade, the Chicago Bulls had a mountain to climb against the Golden State Warriors. Golden State scored 30+ points in three of the four quarters to run away with a 123-92 victory.
At full strength the Bulls were going to struggle against the Warriors, who are the best scoring team in the league at 118.2 points per game. Against a Bulls team that was missing its best defender in Jimmy Butler, it was going to be a nightmare to control all of the offensive weapons the Warriors have to offer. The thinking is to try and shut down one and hope the others have a bad shooting night. That, along with slowing down the pace of the game, was key for the Bulls. Easier said than done, as Chicago wasn’t able to execute either against Golden State, allowing their Big 4 to score double digits led by Klay Thompson’s 28 points with 6 threes. Chicago also got hit in transition, giving up 19 points on the fast break.
With the Bulls already on the short end in terms of trying to contain the Warriors, any mismatch in transition spelled trouble for the away team. With Golden State’s speed and willingness to pass the ball (37 assists off 48 made shots), Chicago couldn’t keep up with them.
One huge advantage the Warriors have over many teams is that basically 4 out of their 5 starters can take the ball up the court. This time it’s Kevin Durant who quickly finds himself working against Jerian Grant. With both Taj Gibson and Robin Lopez still tracking back and not even at the three-point line yet, Denzel Valentine is forced to try and cover the paint against McGee. With a massive height advantage in the paint and Michael Carter-Williams having to stick with Klay Thompson, Durant had three choices to make. Either pull up for three or try and break down Grant and then have to deal with Lopez stumbling down the lane. The last and easiest option would be for KD to lob it up to McGee for an easy dunk, which is the choice he made. Six seconds. That’s all it took for the Warriors to get from one end of the court to the other.
Here in the video above, it was Draymond Green who originally brought the ball up the court but quickly gave it to Durant. Chicago has trouble getting back and Durant gets the ball wide open at the three-point line. Again, MCW is stuck in no mans land. He can either help on the drive or stick with Thompson in the corner. He chooses the latter option and leaves Lopez having to deal with Durant running full steam ahead. Lopez takes one step forward and KD blows by him for a thunderous jam.
Defensively the Bulls were just lost though, falling victim to Golden State’s quick offense which exploited mismatches in transition. Obviously Butler was missing, and losing Paul Zipser didn’t help either when it came to perimeter defense.
Young guys struggle
The two leading scorers on the Bulls were Lopez and Gibson with 17 and 15 points respectively. Both are established veterans and stepped up when needed. The same couldn’t be said about the young guys, who shot a horrid percentage from the field. All of the young players combined shot 15/49 (30.6%). The only exception to having a poor game was Cristiano Felicio.
Denzel Valentine was the worst of the bunch, going 2 of 11 from the field, scoring five points, and registering a -24 while on the court. Yikes. Players like Nikola Mirotic and Doug McDermott, who are expected to create offense for Chicago when the stars are out, went 2 of 9 from three.
Fred was asked about Doug’s struggle on defense and came up with this gem of a quote.