The Golden State Warriors aren’t used to giving up so early because Stephen Curry usually provides them with a comeback option from almost any situation. Not this time against the Chicago Bulls, who made their opponents look like one of the worst teams in the NBA while their dominance in the paint through Joakim Noah, Carlos Boozer and Taj Gibson continues to bring them closer towards home court advantage in the postseason.
There’s nothing flashy about these Bulls. It’s simply good defense, and an improving offense, playing smart basketball. The balls go through Noah and Boozer in the post, while the permieter players make the right cuts and movement to create easy shots. You don’t need a point guard to have a good passing game. All you need to do is involve your best passer as much as possible.
The Bulls beat the Warriors 103-83 by trapping Curry any time he moved towards the basket while taking away his passing angles. It forced 16 turnovers from the Warriors, including five by Curry himself who kept running into the same trap, while his head coach didn’t make the right adjustments in order to help his point guard. Curry was only 2-of-10 from the field with 5 points, finding it very difficult to get any kind of decent shot or look at the basket.
For the Bulls, it was once again not the prettiest of offensive displays. However, they did get Jimmy Butler back which meant a bit more speed in the backcourt not to mention some excellent defense after allowing to many 3’s while Tony Snell was starting for him. Butler scored 16 points in 37 minutes, playing more than any other Bulls player.
But it seemed like the big trio did the most damage on the floor. Joakim Noah finished with 8 points on 3-of-10 from the field, but he had 17 rebounds (six on offense) and 7 assists. Carlo Boozer finished with another double double of 15 points and 13 rebounds, including 4 on the offensive glass, and Taj Gibson was very hard to stop, scoring 21 points off the bench. Both Jermaine O’Neal and Andrew Bogut had a hard time coping with all that aggressiveness in the paint, but the Warriors were at their worst when David Lee was on the floor for 21 minutes, picking the wrong game to come back from injury.
Every loss counts in the tight playoff race that is the Western conference, with the Warriors still hoping to somehow find themselves enjoying home court advantage in the first round of the playoffs. For that, they need to start getting more from Steve Blake, because teams will learn from the Bulls in how to slow down Curry.
For Chicago, who have now won eight of their last 10 games, it was another demonstration of just how well coached this team is, and that with the right players, not necessarily stars, you can overcome a lot. As we’ve mentioned for about 100 times: The Bulls won’t win the East and probably won’t make the conference finals, but they’ll have home court advantage at this rate in the first round, and will make the Pacers or Heat sweat and bleed to make it by them in a best-of-7 series.