The Golden State Warriors are 6-2. That’s a pretty good record. And yet…
…a quick record inspection reveals their six wins have come against the Rockets (1-6), Clippers (1-8), Grizzlies (4-5), Jazz (5-3), Raptors (1-7) and Knicks (3-5). The only legit team in that group is the Jazz. And remember: Utah was 2-3 before their current three-game winning streak. And they’ve come back from 18 or more down in all three of those games.
Anyway, the point is this: Golden State’s glitzy record has been compiled against opponents with a combined record of 15-34. I’m just sayin’.
So what do we know about the Warriors?
They rank 9th in Offensive Rating (108.6) and 13th in Defensive Rating (106.3). Not bad. But not championship-level either. Of course, Chicago ranks 20th in Offensive Rating (104.6) and 9th in Defensive Rating (also 104.6). So the Bulls aren’t exactly making huge investments in trophy polish either.
They like to run, ranking 4th in Pace Factor (98.1). Of course, the Bulls rank 7th in that category (96.6), so pace may not be a huge factor.
They turn the ball over a lot, ranking 19th in Turnover Percentage. Of course, the Bulls rank 22nd in that category, so turnovers could be a factor both ways.
They rank 3rd in Offensive Rebound Percentage. Of course, the Bulls rank 2nd in Defensive Rebound Percentage, so this could be an irresistible force meeting an immovable object.
They rank 27th in Free Throws Per Field Goal Attempt. Unfortunately, the Bulls are 29th in Opponents Free Throws Per Field Goal Attempt. So although the Warriors don’t usually draw fouls, the Bulls apparently love to hack and slash.
The Bulls and Warriors rank 9th and 11th in Opponents Effective Field Goal Percentage with respective marks of .479 and .483.
The Warriors are led by Monta Ellis (27.1 PPG on 51 percent shooting), Stephen Curry (21.7 PPG and 6.8 APG), and David Lee (14.3 PPG and11.3 RPG). Note that Ellis has been dealing with a strained lower back.
The Bulls are led by Derrick Rose (23.8 PPG and 9.2 APG), Luol Deng (19.3 PPG and 43 percent on threes), and Joakim Noah (15.7 PPG and 15.0 RPG).
Anyway, the keys to this game include:
1. Protect the defensive glass
2. Limit turnovers
3. Get back in transition
4. Contest every jumper*
5. Don’t get fooled into playing the Warriors’ game**
*Remember how hot the Knicks got against the Bulls last week? And did you hear what the Pacers did to the Nuggets? Well, like the Knicks and Pacers, the Warriors are a team that can heat up in a hurry if you don’t keep hands placed in the immediate vicinity of their faces. Chicago can’t afford to fall victim to another crazy-hot shooting night by a potentially explosive opponent.
**The Bulls and Warriors both want to run…but Golden State depends on a frenetic pace that hinges on streaky shooting and offensive rebounding. If Chicago doesn’t remain disciplined on the defensive, things could go south in a hurry. Hey, it happened last year.
Moreover, the Bulls have to be disciplined on offense too. Against a team like the Warriors, it’s easy to get lulled into bailing out and taking jump shots. Chicago should attack the rim. According to Hoopdata, Golden State surrenders the third-most field goal attempts per game inside 10 feet and the tenth-most attempts per game at the rim.
By contrast, they give up the second-fewest attempts in that dreaded 16-23 foot range…and their opponents shoot only 35 percent from that distance.