Two teams that are probably among the hottest in the league right now, although quite surprising in their success, and very different in their style. The Chicago Bulls, all about defense and making up for the loss of their biggest star, hosting the Golden State Warriors, who are much more enjoying to watch.
So the Bulls aren’t fun to watch, scoring only 93.6 points per game and shooting 43.8% from the field, 22nd in the NBA. But their defense, keeping teams at 91.3 points per game while limiting them to only 42.8% from the field, second best in the NBA, is keeping them above water and beyond, winning 7 of their last 10 games, needing a couple of buzzer beating shots to come away with wins in their last five games.
The Bulls might be missing Luol Deng for a fourth straight game, hurting his hamstring in the win against the Boston Celtics. Deng is the team’s leading scorer with 17.4 points per game, although it’s hard to focus on one player with the Bulls, who also have Carlos Boozer, Joakim Noah and others to pick up the slack. Marco Belinelli has shown more than once he has a knack to come up big in late plays (Celtics, Pistons games) and the spark and energy Nate Robinson brings from the bench from time to time.
Robinson’s former team, the Golden State Warriors, are a different story. After a short losing streak, brought on partly by the injury of Stephen Curry, the Warriors are beating the big boys. A 106-99 victory against the Clippers, with Curry scoring 28 points was followed by another big win, 104-99, against the Oklahoma City Thunder, Curry scoring 31 points despite an awful 3-14 three point shooting night.
Shooting from the outside thanks to great ball movement and Curry’s ability to not need open shots to make them has been the key to their success – They’re second in the NBA with 39% from beyond the arc but also doing a god job on defense, keeping teams at 45.7% from the field and on the boards, mostly thanks to David Lee, averaging 19.6 points and 10.8 rebounds per game.
Predictions – The Warriors on the road aren’t the energetic team they are at home, but the Bulls simply can’t be counted on to be consistent when it comes to their scoring. It’ll be about the Bulls controlling the boards and having three players on a good shooting night, and that might be enough to beat more talented team.