Some would say the Bulls have problems getting up for lousy teams but play well against the good competition in the league. There's probably some truth to that. There are games where the energy level is really low. However, what hurts them just as much are teams that can own them athletically.
Are the Warriors such a team? I'm afraid they are. Andrew Bogut isn't an athletic beast but the rest of the starting five are Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Harrison Barnes, and Draymond Green. Obviously, every team struggles to contain Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson.
However, given they'll likely get their points, the match up I think might kill the Bulls will be Noah defending Draymond Green.
Noah hasn't looked particularly spry, and Green's a true tweener with the speed of a SF out there. It's the type of match up Jo might have defended well last year, but he's struggling with considerably this year. On top of that, he'll have to guard Green out to the three point line which will keep him away from the glass where he's most productive rebounding and altering shots.
Even if Green doesn't score a bunch of points on his own, his impact in pulling Noah away from the basket will put a ton of defensive pressure on Pau Gasol and Derrick Rose. Rose will need to stay in front of Curry while Pau will need to rotate and help.
At his peak, Derrick might have been up to the challenge. This season? We haven't seen him put forth the defensive effort necessary to slow Curry with any frequency. The one thing I'll say about Rose though is that he loves to get up for games against the elite PGs.
This could prove a strength or a weakness. While the match up might bring out Rose's best, if he's not having a hot shooting night then it may also induce him to playing hero ball. I'm not sure a shooting competition between Curry and Rose ends well for the Bulls.
Replace "not certain" with "no way in hell" to improve the accuracy of that last statement.
Jimmy Butler would seem to have what it takes to slow Klay Thompson, but quite honestly, he hasn't been bringing it lately. We'll have to hope Butler finds his inner bad ass again, because his January has been fairly abysmal.
How can the Bulls win?
So pretty much no one wins in Golden State these days. To be quite honest, I'm not expecting the Bulls to buck that trend, nor do I think anyone else is. However, the Bulls have the talent to match up with Golden State when playing well, and any team relying so much on three point shooting can have an off night.
If the Bulls win, I see it going down something like this:
Don't get caught in a run and gun scenario
Golden State can score points in a hurry, and there will be a tremendous temptation to up the pace of the game all night long to match what they want to do. Instead, the Bulls need to focus on bringing the Warriors down to their pace.
The Bulls bigs aren't set to play a fast pace game effectively and attempting to do so will play into the Warriors hands.
Taj "the ISO" Gibson might fare better tonight
TaJ Gibson wasn't giving up the ball no matter what happened against Miami, he's played like that his whole career. It's just more apparent that it sucks occasionally when he gets stuffed six times.
There's no Hassan Whiteside on the Warriors. They don't have any springy, long, athletic big men to throw at Taj. Taj will likely play a bunch of minutes against Green or Lee in the post. These are times where he can likely score at will down low.
Beyond that, Taj in a slow ISO possession is likely to slow down the GS offense even if he misses, because there won't be along rebounds and the Bulls guards will be out on the perimeter for kick outs so should have little trouble getting back defensively.
This type of offense frequently sucks, but it might work quite well against the Warriors, especially if Taj has it going on and gets good match ups.
The same goes for Gasol in the post, but I'd suspect he'll struggle against Andrew Bogut more than Gibson against his match ups.
There's no reason Derrick Rose shouldn't be able to out muscle and dominate the hell out of Curry while on offense. He just needs to get a half step in either direction then use his physicality to get wherever he wants on the floor.
Bogut's a quality big man in the middle, but he's not so fast and deadly blocking shots that Rose should be deterred. Derrick needs to get in the paint early and often and put the Warriors in foul trouble if he can.
The best shot for the Bulls to beat the Warriors might be to take their stars out of the game with foul trouble.
The same goes for Jimmy Butler. He's struggled in January, but he can drive and get to the line. Much like Rose, he'll have a big physicality advantage against whomever guards him. He'll need to take advantage of that by using his body to drive.
You just got triple doubled by a d-leaguer. It's time to show something out there. The Bulls had better come to play with a chip on their shoulder. The team they're playing could be in the NBA finals. The Bulls better come out and play like a team that could be there too.
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