Chicago at Golden State
Time: 10:30 PM ET
TV: NBA TV
Spread: GSW -11
Betting odds c/o Bookmaker
The Chicago Bulls are 29-17 and 16-6 away from the United Center, but a trip to Oakland to face the Golden State Warriors isn’t expected to go well according to NBA oddsmakers. Late lines show the Warriors as 11-point favorites on oddsmaker Bookmaker with the total set at 212.
Last time out, the Bulls lost 96-84 to the Miami Heat. Derrick Rose scored 19 points and Pau Gasol snatched 17 boards, but Jimmy Butler attempted just eight field goals, mustering just five points. Meanwhile, Dwyane Wade, in demonstrating his still dominant game, hit 10 of 18 and 6 of 6 from the line en route to 26 points, three assists and three rebounds. Almost incredibly Hassan Whiteside came off the Heat bench and rejected 12 shots while scoring 14 points.
But back to Butler: He is outstanding defensively, far more than even his 2.4 blocks/steals per game. Butler can defend 1, 2, and 3s, and he’s a superb rebounder for a guard. Combining Butler with a healthy Derrick Rose should be all the Bulls need…
If Rose were himself, that is. Derrick has played in 32 of the Bulls 43 games this season and is seeing just under 30 minutes a night in those games. But he’s having to rely on jumpshots a lot more than in the past, and his trademark explosiveness and strength are all but absent. He’s shooting just 41 percent from the floor and and he’s only 31 percent from behind the arc.
Combining this with a disproportionate number of turnovers (3.1 per game) helps account for Rose’s barely above average PER (17.0). Rose’s 17 point game last time out bodes well for the Bulls, but this is not the player who once regularly dropped 30 and ran away with the Rookie of the Year and MVP awards.
The Bulls once again have a terrific second unit, headed by Taj Gibson and Aaron Brooks. Brooks has re-emerged from obscurity, and point guards generally fare well under coach Tom Thibodeau, which made the notion of having really lost something when D.J. Augustin bolted laughable. The same could be said about Brooks, should Chicago part ways with him, because Thibbs is making the point guard valuable through his system. That said, Brooks averages 11 points in just 20 minutes of play a night, while dishing out three assists in that span.
Gibson is a steady double/double if he were given starters minutes, but coming off the bench to see 28 minutes a game gives the undersized small forward averages of 11 points and seven boards per game. Gibson is a good shot blocker, swatting away 1.32 shots per game, and he challenges just about everyone at the rim.
If he doesn’t block it, he’s going to change it, foul the player, or at least cause some hesitation. His old school demeanor is part of what helps this Bulls team succeed. Reigning Defensive Player of the Year Joakim Noah embodies this hustle, too, and he’s been good for 7.6 points, 9.4 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game. He’s nursing a right ankle sprain and is unlikely to play in this game, though it does not appear to be so serious as to hold him out long after this one.
Pau Gasol has usurped Noah’s role in the offense to some degree and is averaging over five assists per game like Noah did last season. Gasol is also scoring 18.7 points and 11.4 rebounds per game, numbers that rival his earlier days in Los Angeles and nearly his numbers while in is prime in Memphis. The Bulls have a strong rotation and the best team to match it is one with an equally strong bench, the San Antonio Spurs.
The Golden State Warriors have just become the most exciting draw in the NBA. Klay Thompson is a name that is becoming a household name after he dropped an astounding 37 points in a single quarter. He was so hot he didn’t even realize while playing the sheer insanity of what he had done; he later stared at a stat sheet as though awakening from a crazy dream. Combining that kind of shooting with a guy who was already being labeled by some as the best shooting in NBA history in Stephen Curry, and the Warriors are just dangerous.
The team is dangerous just based on the duo alone. And yet, they are not alone. The Warriors are replete with talent through the entire roster, and the fact that the team has the league’s best record is even more impressive when considering the Warriors have been without two-time All-Star David Lee for the majority of the season. Draymond Green has stepped up as an unorthdox answer at the 4-spot and the Warriors have thrived.
Harrison Barnes hasn’t demonstrated a ton of improvement, but he’s still useful as a utility defender. Defense is Andrew Bogut’s calling card.
While the Warriors may score a ton, the team is among the best defending teams in the Association and the Bulls are in for a tough time in this one. While the 11-point spread may be generous, there is no telling what the Warriors could do to any team on any given night with the recent explosion by its young 2-guard, the son of NBA Lakers legend Mychael Thompson.