Prior to the season starting, most people circled this game as a win on the Calendar. Since that point the Warriors are off to a 6-2 start and look a heck of a lot better than the chucker Warrior teams of recent years.
They do their damage in the backcourt where both Monta Ellis and Stephen Curry are scoring over 20 points per game on over 50% shooting from the field. I've always liked Monta Ellis (officially questionable but likely to play IMO), just not for the Bulls as his game aligns very similarly to Derrick Rose, he's scoring on 51.3% shooting which is scary good from two point range given he chucks up 3.6 three pointers a game at 24%. Curry has made a mockery of my predraft analysis where I doubted he had the athleticism to play in the NBA and is scoring 21.5 points a game with a TS% of 60%.
[UPDATE - David Lee out tonight - Left Elbow laceration after catching the tooth of a Knick player. Lee joked that D'Antoni ordered players to bite him. How do we know this is a joke? If D'Antoni really wanted someone to bite Lee he'd have sent in Eddy Curry]
The Warriors do most of their damage offensively where they now score with efficiency as well as volume. Their style is to push to score all game long as much as possible. As such, they make several decisions in their style of play that the Bulls must be cognizant of and brings us to the keys of the game:
1. If Joakim Noah must control the defensive glass
They ferociously attack the glass at the expense of getting back on defense. They're one of the top offensive rebounding teams in the NBA, and they'll score a lot of second chance points on you if you can't control the defensive glass.
You can try to leave everyone back to control the defensive glass, or you can try leak out your own guards against them to beat them at their own game. Either approach has it's flaws. I'm not a fan of being forced into the opponents style, but if you don't punish them for attacking the glass then you allow them to go on the offensive all game long which puts you in a tough spot.
2. Golden State leaves offensive rebounding opportunities open
Much like they attack the offensive glass, they are always looking to initiate the fast break which gives you a chance to rebound offensively against them, but if you fail, there's a good chance that they'll press an advantage in the early offense which they excel at scoring in.
Again, you are left with trying to play aggressively on offense and getting caught up in their game, or whether or not to play conservatively and get back on defense.
3: Don't run bad offense to exploit Curry on defense
I call this the anti-Ben Gordon rule. As a Bulls fan, I saw teams like Cleveland try to punish the Bulls by isolating Delonte West for post ups on Ben Gordon. They'd try the play three times in a row and score once which many Bulls fans would then bitch about how Gordon is short, not realizing that the opposing team just went away from LeBron James three possessions in a row to try Delonte West in the post.
Don't make try and turn Bogans or Brewer into isolation options while ignoring Derrick Rose in a hope to exploit Curry defensively. If you can move Curry around with some switches and get an advantage do it. If you can get some extra back door cuts with Brewer soaring over Curry's head then all the better.
However, don't try and force bad offense to get a bad defender, it's not likely to work.
4: Keep up strong fundamentals
Golden State feasts on easy offense. They gamble for turnovers, gamble on the offensive glass, and gamble on their own defensive glass. Playing with strong fundamentals will force them to lose their bets. The Bulls need to be careful with the ball and control the glass to limit GS early offense opportunities and easy baskets.
Both teams want to get out there and push the pace to get fast break and early offense opportunities. The Warriors are more frenetic at doing this than the Bulls are and will gamble more frequently than we will. While there's not a big gap in style between the two teams, the Bulls need to be careful not to get too caught up in Golden State's game.
The Warriors are also coming off of a back to back, and for a team that wants to roll out the ball and run all game, that could make them wear down in the fourth quarter, particularly if Monta Ellis is feeling any side effects from the back strain on Saturday, he could be kicked up today. I'm presuming Ellis will play though he's officially listed as questionable for the game.
I'm going to predict a Bulls win, because they've had a couple days off to focus on the opponent while the Warriors are coming off a back to back. I like the Bulls when Tom Thibodeau has some extra time to prepare, however, the Warriors are no joke, so this would could swing either way.