Well this was a contest for about 5 minutes before the Golden State Warriors showed again they were a class above the Chicago Bulls. The young Bulls walked into the Warriors’ home court and were bombarded from the start, already down down 43-17 at the end of the first quarter. The Warriors then scored 30 or more in all four quarters of the game in what ended up being a 146-109 shellacking.
The Bulls tried, somewhat, to battle back to make this a respectable game, but Golden State showed no signs of slowing down despite playing their end of the bench guys for much of the 4th. If there is any positive spin you can take away from this one, it was that they gave up three fewer points in this one than they did at home against this team, a game that made John Paxson very upset.
We’ve yet to see the fallout from this one, but as usual there were a ton of defensive lapses leading to a ton of open looks for Golden State. The Warriors had 39 attempts from three-point land and knocked down 18 of them (46.2%). 12 of those makes came from the duo of Steph Curry and Klay Thompson. If there are two players you can burn you if you let them get open looks, it’s them. They combined for 58 points and took advantage of the Bulls lackluster defense from the opening tip.
This play sequence was early in the game but it was an accurate representation of what was to come for the rest of the night. Thompson grabs the rebound off a Lauri Markkanen miss and the Warriors began their transition offense. Draymond Green brings the ball up court and with the Bulls still running back, they aren’t set on defense. Nobody has the right matchup with the exception of Markkanen, who was guarding Kevin Durant. Now this is fine as of right now but the Bulls have to communicate with each other and who is guarding who in semi-transition. With the Warriors, you can’t lose anyone or it will result in easy three or a dunk. Zach LaVine seems to pick up Draymond and by the looks of it, Wendell Carter Jr. guards Kevon Looney with Kris Dunn and Chandler Hutchison responsible for the backcourt duo. More particularly it’s Hutchison who is guarding Klay Thompson. Hutchison appears to lose where his man is on the court and drifts to near the top of the three-point line. Curry recognizes this and sets a screen for Thompson on Hutchison. Green sees this happen as well and fires a pass in stride to Klay. With Dunn drifting too far into the paint as well, one of the best shooters in the NBA has a wide open three-point attempt, which he caught in rhythm. The result is expected as Thompson knocks down the shot.
The game got worse and worse for the Bulls and Golden State transitioned from outright killing them to more having their fun.
After allowing an open three-point attempt to Curry, he somehow misses. But the egregious part is he ends up getting the offensive rebound. All five Bulls players are in the paint and none of them hustle to get the ball as it bounces off the side of the rim and into the corner. Both Shaq Harrison and WCJ are caught napping and Curry takes advantage. He scrambles to get the ball in the corner. Curry flips the ball to Jordan Bell to prevent a turnover but we all know he is looking to get the ball back. WCJ is the defender here and is responsible for denying Curry the ball. Having Bell in a post up is the best outcome for Chicago in this scenario. Curry looks like he is going to cut on the baseline towards the hoop and WCJ commits to prevent it. With no Bull in the paint, it looked like the right move initially. Even Hutchison stepped to the side from playing defense on Bell to stop the backdoor cut. But Curry stops on a dime and runs back to the three-point line. Carter Jr. is caught off guard and is a step away from Curry, who is now back in the corner. It’s enough space for Curry as Bell tosses the ball back to him and he lets it fly. Curry splashes a three in WCJ’s face and makes it a 43-point game at Oracle Arena.
This game was going to be tough for the Bulls from the start. But made worse when the Bulls were slow in rotating, switching, and closing out on shooters. They constantly let guys wander unchecked on the three-point line and it led to some simple shots from the opposition. As great teams do, the Warriors took full advantage of it and it resulted in 146 points.
It wasn’t a good night for a Bulls defense, which after the post-coaching-change bump has been struggling as of late.
Remember those defensive improvements that Boylen was creating?— Stephen Noh (@StephNoh) January 12, 2019
Bulls D is now ranked 24th (111.5) since Boylen took over. They were 23rd under Hoiberg (110.6). Offense has also gotten worse under Boylen. And he's had WAY better personnel to work with.
Things won’t get any easier when they play the Utah Jazz tonight.