Inside the Scope: Golden State Warriors (26-15) x Chicago Bulls (25-16)
- Tip Off: 5:00 p.m. (PT)
- Television: CSN-BA
Chicago Bulls Team Profile
- Offensive Efficiency: 100.2 (20th in NBA)
- Defensive Efficiency: 97.7 (3rd in NBA)
- Points: Luol Deng, 17.4 PPG
- Rebounds: Joakim Noah, 10.9 RPG
- Assists: Kirk Hinrich, 5.2 APG
- Steals: Joakim Noah, 1.3 SPG
- Blocks: Joakim Noah, 2.1 BPG
- Field Goal Percentage: Jimmy Butler, 48.4% FG
- 3-Point Field Goal Percentage: Marco Belinelli, 39.5% 3PT FG
Scope the Opposition: Bulls by the Horns.
Preview: Whether teams saw them coming or not, the Golden State Warriors have defeated the Los Angeles Clippers (three times), the Miami Heat and the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Dubs aren’t just good, they’re real good.
Tonight, they will face a tough test when they take on a Chicago Bulls squad that has played great basketball this season despite the absence of superstar Derrick Rose.
The Bulls’ calling card since hiring Tom Thibodeau as head coach has been their defense and it’s incredibly difficult to score on because the players do a great job of seeing the ball at all times and being in position to help out against players with the ball or with the potential to catch it in scoring position on the strong side of the court.
Their defense occasionally looks like a zone because of the shifts and positioning of the Bulls players.
Granted, having a great defensive scheme is obviously important, but possessing great defensive players to plug into that scheme, well that’s just gravy.
Joakim Noah is excellent at defending the screen-and-roll and also retreating to the paint to watch the offense unfold as he bumps cutters, sees the ball and clogs the lane. Also, he is a great shot blocker that alters shots without fouling and rebounds his area quite well. His backup, Taj Gibson possesses some of the same skills but is a bit more foul prone. It’s worth noting that Gibson can defend perimeter players as well, which makes him a defensive ace on the Bulls given his ability to switch on pick-and-rolls and contain ball handlers.
The Bulls’ vaunted defense can be beat though, and Golden State has the recipe.
When Chicago overloads the strong side of the court against ball handlers, they help off whichever player is stationed on the weak side of the court on the perimeter because he isn’t much of a threat. The reason is simple: few players can make a pinpoint cross-court pass while on the move, and in addition the player camped out in this situation doesn’t necessarily possess both ball handling and shooting skills to scare away opponents.
But in the case of the Warriors, that player can be either Harrison Barnes, Klay Thompson or Stephen Curry if he is playing alongside Jarrett Jack in the backcourt. Because the Bulls recover quickly in the event of a pass from strong to weak side, it’s important that this player be a threat to shoot and put the ball on the floor to take advantage of rotating defenders. But keep in mind, this player will probably get swarmed by the rotating defense and thus now has the option of feeding whichever open teammate he finds for a high percentage shot. Keep in mind, running multiple pick-and-rolls with different players is also a good option to get Chicago defenders out of position.
It’s worth noting that the more options and actions the Bulls have to defend, the more vulnerable it leaves them on the boards, as they scatter around a little and get out position and give up offensive rebounding opportunities.
One should expect Golden State’s fourth quarter closing lineup of Jarrett Jack, Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, David Lee and Carl Landry to create some good scoring opportunities against the Bulls and also to snatch up a few offensive rebounds, but in the same breath they may give up some second chance opportunities as well because of Chicago’s size up front.
I suspect that Noah and Gibson will defend Lee throughout most of the night, but should Gibson get matched up with Landry, pay attention to their physical battle on the interior both for post and rebounding position.
This might be one of those nights where the Dubs need Stephen Curry to close out the game, and he’s proved to be up to the task so far this season.
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