Tag Archives: Golden State Warriors

Note-A-Bulls: Warriors blow out the injury-riddled Bulls in Oracle Arena 123-92

Well, as far as Bulls losses go this year, at least this one was predictable. Sans Jimmy G Butler and Dwyane Wade against the best team in the league at Oracle Arena, the Bulls (26-27) got taken to the woodshed on Wednesday night by the Warriors (44-8) by a score of 123-92. The Bulls got outscored in each quarter and failed to ever really threaten the Dubs in this one. Without Butler and Wade, the Bulls lacked any serious scoring threat and any semblance of depth that could have kept this a game past the second quarter. Let’s see if we can find some positives to take from this overall stinker.

  • The Bulls actually started this one off competitive to the surprise of many. Halfway through the first, the Bulls found themselves knotted up at 11 apiece thanks to some quality defense and a generally high energy level. However, the Warriors promptly went on one of their patented runs, scoring 13 points in a row over the span of just a few minutes to create a gap that the Bulls would not be able to recover from.
  • In the second, the Bulls starting small forward for the night (Paul Zipser) fell victim to an injured ankle and would not return, depleting the already feeble Bulls roster even further. The injury didn’t appear too serious, but any injury is a major one at this point in the up-and-down campaign here.
  • The matchup between one of the best 3-point shooting teams in recent memory, and one of the worst, held true to form in this one. The Bulls shot a pedestrian 4/24 from deep on the night, a paltry 17%. Meanwhile, Klay and Draymond carried the load for the Warriors from outside combining for 11/15 shooting, 73%, in limited minutes. The duo were able to find open looks throughout the game as the Warriors as a whole finished 15/28 (54%) on the game. For those counting at home, that’s 33 more points Golden State scored from the beyond the arch than the Bulls, a devastating gap that few teams could overcome in today’s NBA.
  • With Wade and Butler out, Hoiberg was hoping to get a spark out of little used Denzel Valentine on the night. The rookie out of Michigan State failed to deliver after finally getting significant minutes. Valentine finished with a line of five points, three assists, and two turnovers while shooting just 2/11 in 21 minutes of game time. The rookie also finished with a +/- rating of -24 on the game. He was just not playing at the same speed as some of his counterparts and often found himself out of place on defense. The shooting was the least of Valentine’s issues in this one, as it was disappointing to see this effort after such a promising few games for the D-League Windy City Bulls.
  • On a night like Wednesday, you have to take some small victories from the game. In this case, the Bulls got some quality minutes out of their frontcourt starters Taj Gibson and Robin Lopez. The duo were the two highest scoring Bulls on the night and combined for a stat line of 32 points and 19 rebounds on 14/28 shooting (50%). With the two premier scoring options out in the backcourt, Gibson and Lopez stepped up and were visibly more aggressive in finding their shot when the opportunity arose. If these two can bring the same effort when Butler and Wade are back, it would go a long way in solving the Bulls scoring issues going forward.
  • For the Warriors, it was business as usual. The team’s ball movement was pristine, and their shooting was on the mark to fully take advantage of the fruits of their labor from all the quick passes this team executes. Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and Kevin Durant had stellar games to make up for a relatively off night from former MVP Stephen Curry.
  • I would give my MVP on the night to Green, as the more successful Michigan State product finished the night with 19 points on an efficient eight shots thanks to his previously mentioned three point stroke. Green also added eight boards and six dimes as the stat stuffer was doing it all for the Warriors on the offensive ends of things. Not many teams can win by 30 when their MVP scores only 13, but the Warriors aren’t most teams. Their scoring depth and general team-first ethic mean they can bully most teams without having to sweat out a competitive affair, as was the case last night.
  • Up Next: The Bulls continue this six-game road trip in Phoenix on Friday night as they take on the Suns.

BULLet Points: Bulls no match for Curry and the Warriors

Losing a game by 30 points on your home floor is typically cause for hysteria. But with the Warriors in town Wednesday night, the default settings on the panic meter need to be adjusted.

  • It wasn’t all bad here in game 40. The starting back court combined to score 52 points on 50% shooting from the field. Rose was straight up cooking in the first half, scoring 21 points on 10/15 shooting.
  • Rose displayed great touch on his floaters and mid range jumpers. When Derrick hits his spots on the glass, he becomes very difficult to guard. Rose, who was 0/2 from beyond the arc, doesn’t necessarily need to become a three point marksman to open up driving lanes. If defenders have to honor jump shots of any distance, Rose will continue to fine clear paths to the basket.
  • My one complaint from this Rose performance, which ended with him scoring 29 points on 12/22 shooting, was his inability to spin his success off into success for his teammates. Rose tallied just two assists in his 30 minutes of action. While assist totals aren’t always the best indication of playmaking ability, Rose’s performance didn’t pass the eye test. Too often it seemed Rose decided he was taking the shot and didn’t look to set up his teammates for easy buckets. It’s hard to critique a player’s shot selection when he makes over 50% of his field goals, but it’s on night’s like this, when Rose has the defense’s full attention, that he should be looking for his teammates.
  • Jimmy Butler finished this game with 23 points, but almost all of his activity came in the 24 minutes of garbage time commonly referred to as the “second half of Warriors games.” Butler shot 1/7 from the field on mostly lazy contested jump shots in the first two quarters and drew just one shooting foul. He finished the game with an impressive 12 attempts from the line, but it would have been nice to see some more aggression before the game got out of hand.
  • It’s sort of discouraging that Rose and Butler’s strong individual stretches did not overlap at all.
  • The rest of the Bulls starting five combined to shoot 3/22 from the field for a combined seven points. Pau Gasol was completely erased by Draymond Green. Green is an expert defending screeners and did not let Pau get into any sort of rhythm in the pick and pop. Tony Snell was 0/4 from three and was unable to do anything positive even in an extended garbage time run. Taj at least had a cool dunk.
  • Snell has underwhelmed in his return to the starting lineup, but none of his competition for small forward minutes have done much to distinguish themselves. Mirotic was 0/5 from the field on mostly ugly clankers. McDermott was 1/6 and a team worst -28 in 32 minutes of play.
  • It was another classic low energy first quarter for the Bulls who gave up several easy buckets to the best transition offense in the NBA. The Warriors beat the Bulls down the court over and over again, including after a couple of made shots. The MO of the Bulls the last two years has been malaise against the league’s lower tiers and high intensity against the elite. The attention to detail on defense in this game put a big dent in that perception.
  • The Bulls entered the fourth quarter facing a 24 point deficit and Fred Hoiberg used the final 12 minutes to experiment. Before Cam Bairstow entered the game with three minutes left, the Bulls only big man on the court was Bobby Portis. The five out offense was fun to see, and Portis had himself a nice outing after struggling in his last few games. But the Bulls surrendered 38 points in the quarter to Golden State’s scrubs, many of which came on uncontested dunks and layups. Portis has a great motor and a pretty well rounded offensive skillset, but his ability to play NBA defense is a definite work in progress. Noah’s absence will create more learning opportunities for the rookie, but for now Portis is not capable of anchoring a defense.
  • Cristiano Felicio and Cameron Bairstow are not the frontcourt of the future.
  • Aaron Brooks was abused by Shaun Livingston. Brooks struggles to slow down most NBA point guards, but in a matchup where he was at a 10 inch disadvantage, AB never had a chance. I wish Hoiberg would have pulled the plug earlier on Brooks and given E’Twaun Moore more minutes. Moore finished with 13 points and did his best to slow down the world’s most terrifying offensive force.
  • The Warriors are amazing. They’re a machine running at full capacity from tip to final buzzer. They overwhelm teams with their passing, patience and shooting. Several times the Bulls played 20 seconds of good defense on a possession, but Golden State will make you pay for any slippage in the final four seconds.
  • The Steph Curry-Derrick Rose matchup was apparently the first between point guards who have won NBA MVP.
  • Coming up: the Bulls head to Boston for a Friday night matchup.

BULLet Points: Bulls fight valiantly, lose, against champion Warriors

The comparisons between the 2015-16 Golden State Warriors and the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls have started already, and although the season is not even a full month old, there is no question that Steph Curry’s Warriors are the toughest team to face in the NBA right now.  Especially when you have to meet them in Oakland. That said, the Bulls were pretty impressive, ultimately falling short in the final minutes of the fourth quarter and losing 106-94–a score that makes the game look much less close than it actually was. The Warriors won their 14th straight game to start the season, two off of the NBA record. Here’s a look at some of the key points from the matchup:

  • Kirk Hinrich showed flashes of his former self. He made Steph Curry’s life as hard as possible (he had a +/- of even in Friday’s game), and his 17 points came largely from an impressive 3/4 from the three point range. By no means do I expect that Hinrich has much left to offer this team, but he served up some timely scoring that could have been more beneficial had the Bulls been able to keep the game closer in the last four minutes of the game.
  • Derrick Rose sat out again. Rose sprained his ankle in Monday night’s game, and after sitting out on Wednesday night in Phoenix, he opted to stay out of Friday’s game as well, in spite of the chance to play against Curry. Given Rose’s history, I see no reason for him to push himself too far. The Bulls have surprised me a bit up to this point in the young season, and though I hate to get ahead of myself, I want Rose as healthy as possible for the last stretch of the season and even into the playoffs. I don’t’ know how much of a difference that Rose would have made against Golden State, but either way, I am ultimately happy with the decision to be cautious about how many minutes he spends on the floor after something like a sprained ankle.
  • I harped a bit on Nikola Mirotic’s shooting in Monday’s BULLet Points, and I would like to point out that he was 0/6 from three point range against Golden State. This makes him 20/64 on the season so far, and though he shot well from beyond the arc through the first four games of the season, that just has not been the case since then. Perhaps it’s time for him to spend less time shooting from deep. He did shoot 6/6 from the free throw line and grabbed 10 rebounds.
  • Bench play. Our bench players did not contribute at all like they needed to in a game like this one. The four players who came off the bench combined for just 15 points (by comparison, Golden State’s bench added 32 to their total), and this is with nine from E’Twuan Moore.
  • Joakim Noah on offense has gone from laughable to worrisome to problematic. He added no points off of the bench on Friday, making it the fifth time that’s happened this season. He often looks lost on offense and as if he does not know where he should be.
  • Jimmy Butler was unbelievable, pouring in 28 points, nine boards and seven assists. He was the best player on the floor for most of the night, often guarding the much bigger Draymond Green.
  • The Warriors are just seriously good. We didn’t see Stephen Curry’s best work on Friday night, but he still managed 27 points, four assists, four steals, and five rebounds. Hinrich held him to 3/11 from distance. The Warriors are now 14-0, and may well pose a real threat to the 72 wins of the 1995-96 Bulls.
  • In all, though the final score does not really reflect this, the game was much, much closer than a glance at the box score might indicate. I was genuinely impressed with the way that the Bulls kept this game very close and were not really out of this game until being outscored 29-21 in the 4th quarter. And even then, it was not until the last three or four minutes that Golden State really started to pull away and widen their lead behind the vaunted small lineup of Curry, Klay Thompson, Andre Iguodala, Harrison Barnes and Draymond Green. This game was within Chicago’s grasp until that group, +74 in 54 minutes this year, slammed the door.
  • Coming up: the Bulls continue their November “circus trip” and look to improve to 9-4 in Portland on Tuesday night.

 

Midseason Love/Hate, Part 1

We are closing in on the NBA All-Star break and so far this has been a pretty thrilling regular season, especially if you’re only watching the Western Conference. There have already been so many great moments this year. We’ve laughed, we’ve cried, and we’ve seen Clippers owner Steve Ballmer dance to Fergie courtside during a game. So I thought I’d put together a completely biased and objective list of the things I love and hate about each team this year with some refined commentary.

Atlanta Hawks

Love: DeMarre Carroll as “the other guy” in the Hawks starting five

The Hawks are the biggest surprise of this season and have been flat out amazing, evidenced by their 19 game win streak. 4/5 of their starters (Teague, Korver, Millsap, Horford) are receiving the bulk of the credit, albeit very well deserved. But their fifth option DeMarre Carroll is the type of glue guy every team needs; he’s scrappy as hell, plays tough defense, and can hit a few timely three pointers. Many of his teammates will be up in New York for the upcoming All-Star game, but without DeMarre the Hawks certainly wouldn’t have the best record in the East.

Hate: People rebranding the Hawks as “Spurs-East”

Yes, Mike Budenholzer used to coach for Gregg Popovich. And yes, the Hawks do play a team oriented style of basketball that echoes former Spurs teams. But that’s not a good enough reason to marginalize what the Hawks have done this season by essentially saying they’re only good because they are mimicking the Spurs. If it was that easy every team would hire Gregg Popovich assistants. A-Town down!

Boston Celtics

Love: Brad Stevens trying to win despite his revolving door of a roster

Coach Stevens is doing his best despite Danny Ainge cleaning house; he has managed to get his team to keep playing hard and is occasionally stealing some games from contending opponents. Instead of just playing young guys who can gain valuable experience, he’s decided to implant Brandon Bass in the starting lineup and is now playing Tayshaun Prince 20 plus minutes a night off the bench. These lineups suggest one of two things; either he’s extremely competitive and hates losing, or he desperately wants to go back to coaching college ball.

Hate: Danny Ainge trading Rajon Rondo to the Mavs for some magic beans

I’m not mad at Danny for taking a first round pick and Brandan Wright (who was traded for two second round picks) in exchange for Rondo. But what the hell was he waiting for? Good GM’s don’t wait until their greatest asset is at its lowest possible value and then pull the trigger. He couldn’t have possibly seen the Celtics as a playoff contender entering this season, and if he did he gave up on that idea pretty early. Also if I’m a Western Conference team and I see the Mavs got Rondo for basically nothing, I’m genuinely going to be pretty peeved at Danny Ainge for affecting the West playoff race. It’s like when a guy at the bottom of your fantasy league trades one of their best players because they are giving up on the season. Danny Ainge is that guy, and we all hate those guys.

Brooklyn Nets

Love: Nets having a white player from Duke participate in the Slam Dunk Contest

That is a phrase I never thought I would say.

Hate: Watching the sad end to Kevin Garnett

It’s a shame KG has to go out like this. He’s one of the best at his position of all-time and to play on this pitiful Nets team is kind of tainting his statuesque career. Kevin Garnett has played so long I honestly can’t even remember his golden years in Minnesota when he was dominant every time he took the floor. The end to KG has similar overtones to Hakeem Olajuwon ending his career in Toronto, and as Mays Gilliam says “that ain’t right!”

Charlotte Hornets

Love: the honeycomb print on the home floor

Honestly, it’s pretty stupid and seems like something a DII college team might do. But for some reason I like that they embraced returning as the Hornets to its fullest extent. When is Time Warner Cable Arena hosting “Baron Davis Night” or “Larry Johnson Night” this year?

Hate: Panic! We’re running out of Lance Stephenson memes

The Lance “blowing air” meme has been pretty strong, one of the greats if you ask me. But it’s kind of a played idea at this point. Lance is going down in flames as a Hornet and he’s not even starting anymore. Lance for the love of god don’t leave us hanging like this, please come up with some new material. In case you didn’t see, he is taking fan suggestions for his next on court antics. Forward all submissions to ConeyIslandKilla6969@hotmail.com.

Chicago Bulls

Love: Renaissance of Pau Gasol

Pau has been a revelation this year and has really turned the Bulls into a true title contender; if they can stay healthy. It’s rare you see a player like Pau who ages, switches teams, and then seemingly gets better. I also think he’s in some silent game of chicken with his younger brother Marc and doesn’t yet want to relinquish the title of “The Best Gasol”. Pau has given the Bulls something that has been lacking in years past, a reliable post presence who the offense can play through in the halfcourt. With Pau commanding double teams it opens up the offense even more for Derrick Rose and Jimmy Butler. The one downside however is his defensive skill. It’s hard to overlook his lack of defense, but the offense he brings should override the fact that he is a horrific defender.

Hate: Doug McDermott’s trade value

I know Dougie McBucket’s injury has prohibited us from making a solid conclusion about what type of player he’s going to become, but as of now that draft night trade has a bad stench to it. I believe his ceiling as a player is as a good scoring threat off the bench, I’m not sure that warranted trading the 16th (Jusuf Nurkic!) and 19th (Gary Harris) overall picks for him. Due to injury this season the Bulls are forced to play guys like Tony Snell, Kirk Hinrich, and E’twaun Moore major minutes. The team could use an injection talent off the bench not named Nikola Mirotic. Trading for McDermott only gave away the potential to add another young player to the roster.

Cleveland Cavaliers

Love: LeBron as player/GM

The fact that Cavs owner Dan Gilbert and actual GM David Griffin consult LeBron on all transactions is kind of ridiculous, regardless of the fact that LeBron is the best player on the planet. I feel like he’s always threatening to just opt of out his contract this year, and so David Griffin has to ship off every draft pick he has for the next decade in order to make LeBron happy. Of course trading two first rounders for Timofey Mozgov went down because LeBron doesn’t really care how the Cavs end up in five years. GM LeBron might actually be best for the Cavs anyway, at least he didn’t draft Anthony Bennett. Anything he does from here on out is an upgrade from the previous GM.

Hate: David Blatt not using Kevin Love correctly

Attention David Blatt! Kevin Love is more than a three point shooter! Stop sticking him in the corner and do some actual coaching. I hope trading future star Andrew Wiggins for a glorified three point shooter was not the initial plan when they acquired Love.

Dallas Mavericks

Love: Dirk Nowitzki is still basically unguardable

Dirk is the first of his kind, he’s the “Model-T” of European big men who can shoot from deep and who also have post skills. He has made the Mavs relevant for almost two decades, including this season, and I rarely show affection to anything German so this declaration has some weight to it. Even after all the additions of Rajon Rondo, Chandler Parsons, and Tyson Chandler, if the Mavericks make any noise in the playoffs it will undoubtedly be because of Dirk and that silky smooth jumper.

Hate: decline of the old rambunctious Mark Cuban

Mark, please yell at a ref or accost the league in some way and get fined. We want the old Cubes! Make it rain in the commissioner’s office and let Adam Silver know that those hundred dollar bills are just “fun coupons” and you won’t ever stop being you.

Denver Nuggets

Love: Jusuf Nurkic smack talk

When you’re a rookie and you’re smack talking and jawing at Kobe Bryant, DeMarcus Cousins, and Marc Gasol without any level respect for those guys who are more accomplished than you’ll likely ever be; that takes some guts and deserves a tip of the cap. Even though it’s stupid and unwarranted, I love him for that. I’m making odds on who the first guy to throw a punch at Jusuf in response is. Highest odds are DeMarcus Cousins (revenge) 2-1, JaVale McGee (accidentally) 9-2, and if you’re looking for longer odds Ron Artest (psychopath) 5000-1.

Hate: Ty Lawson’s inability to use Uber

Really Ty? Two DUI’s? C’mon dawg you make millions of dollars a year, shell out a couple bucks for an Uber or call Danilo Gallinari to come pick you up, he’s probably available. Professional athletes receiving DUI’s has almost become a regularity; how teams are not more proactive about this is outrageous. I realize the large majority of this problem is the personal responsibility of the athlete, but teams need to babysit these guys or have harsher penalties. Unfortunately it’s probably going to take someone’s untimely death before the problem is finally addressed further. Sorry that I had to be a little morose to prove a point.

Detroit Pistons

Love: Stan Van Gundy’s balls for waiving Josh Smith

It definitely must have been a tough sell for SVG to march into the owner’s office and say “Hey, so I want to cut Josh even though we still owe him $26 million. You cool with that?” If this move didn’t work and the Pistons ended up worse, I’m not sure how Stan Van would’ve survived. This is the ultimate case of addition by subtraction. I can’t even recall a similar situation where the release of one player created such an upturn in wins. Maybe when Brad Pitt traded Carlos Pena in “Moneyball”?

Hate: Brandon Jenning’s Achilles tendon for crapping out on him

As if sports in Detroit couldn’t get worse. We’re still relatively fresh off the NFL refs screwing over the Lions. The Pistons uptick and winning ways were a silver lining to that horrific Lions loss. Jennings going down for the season is really unfortunate because the Pistons were once again becoming a great team to watch. Brandon Jennings’ game was flourishing without Josh Smith on the floor dominating the ball, and he was directly contributing to the poor man’s “twin towers” Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond wreaking havoc on opponents. At this point, it’s hard not to feel bad for the city of Detroit.

Golden State Warriors

Love: Klay Thompson in 24/7 heat check mode

The kid is straight fire. Every time he launches a three and it doesn’t go in I think my eyes are playing a trick on me. Also he scored 37 points in one freakin’ quarter. I’ve played rec league basketball for over 15 years and I’ve yet to eclipse 30 points in an entire game. Just for fun, here are a couple names of players drafted over Klay Thompson: Derrick Williams, Jan Vesely, Bismack Biyombo, Jimmer Fredette. Those guys could go 4 vs. 1 with Klay and they’d lose.

Hate: Andrew Bogut’s health

The Warriors are a really exciting team to root for, but I’m afraid without a healthy Andrew Bogut they won’t have a shot at the title. It’s entirely possible they can win without him, but it will be a hell of a lot easier with him in the on the hardwood. They need his defensive presence against dominant frontcourt teams like the Grizzlies; his defense will need to hold teams close during the few games that Steph and Klay go cold.

The Inaugural Podcast: Talking Bulls

Jake Weiner, Jacob Bikshorn and Drew Hackman got together to discuss the Bulls’ thrilling win over the Warriors, the Atlanta Hawks, Derrick Rose’s comeback season, Joakim Noah’s health, the Bulls’ different lineup combos, and of course Kirk Hinrich, amongst other topics. Enjoy!