The Chicago Bulls lacked major defensive effort and offensive discipline, losing to the Golden State Warriors 116-102 on the road.
There are 15 important observations to take from this game for the Bulls.
- Rotations. Head coach Billy Donovan toyed with different rotations tonight. To start the evening, he sat Lauri Markkanen for Thaddeus Young. The first guards off the bench were Ryan Arcidiacono and Garrett Temple, who left the game due to injury. See below. Donovan also played around with a Daniel Theis and Nikola Vucevic pairing.
- Bench Points. The Bulls outscored the Warriors 31-22 in bench points. Markkanen led the way with 13 points off of nine shots, an efficient night for him for his first game in the second rotation. The Bulls played eight players off the bench. This will change in the future.
- Injuries/DNP. Coby White surprised fans with a late inactive before the game due to a neck injury. Temple left in the second quarter with a hamstring injury. Donovan made some interesting moves by not playing Al-Farouq Aminu nor Denzel Valentine off the bench. However, Devon Dotson and Cristiano Felicio saw late-game action.
- Team Defense. The Warriors are an average shooting team this season, ranking 16th in field goal percentage and 14th in three-point percentage. Not against the Bulls. They shot right on 50 percent from the field and 42.1 percent from downtown as a team. The Bulls failed to control the Warriors’ offense in many areas. See below.
- Pick-and-roll defense. The “drop coverage,” or the Donovan-defensive scheme that includes Bulls’ defending bigs to drop down in coverage off screens, is not working for them. The Warriors took full advantage of the space left between their ball-handler and the Bulls’ defending big by splashing mid-range and three-point shots. Check #6,7,8 for specifics.
- Stephen Curry. The main exploiter for the Bulls’ drop coverage on Monday night was Curry. Flying from off-ball and on-ball screens to get ideal matchups with Markkanen and Vucevic, Curry had a tremendous shooting night. He shot 11/24 from the field and 6/14 from three-point land for 32 points in his first night back from injury. He was out the previous five games before playing the Bulls.
- Draymond Green. Green, while a much better defender than an offensive asset, had his fun against the Bulls on the offensive end. Green was free to shoot whenever he pleased from downtown since the Bulls decided to sag off of him to encourage him to shoot. This left Green to shoot 3/5 from downtown and 4/7 from the floor for 11 points on the night.
- Kelly Oubre. Oubre was an effective body for the Warriors’ win on Monday. Disappointing enough, Oubre did plenty of work inside the paint. He grabbed 11 rebounds, four of them offensive, and capitalized for 18 points on 8/19 shooting. His aggressiveness outdid the Bulls’ attempts to contain him in the paint. Tomas Satoransky was an easy matchup for him.
- Team Offense. The Bulls had an outstanding first half on offense, scoring 60 points on 22 assists in the first two quarters. For most of the first half, the Bulls were lighting up and shooting over 60 percent from the field. The catch of this success came from the scoreboard, seeing that the Warriors were up five points going into half even though the Bulls were shooting out of their minds. The defense has to improve.
- Turnovers. The Bulls committed 20 turnovers, allowing the Warriors to score 15 points off of them. This caused a major gap in shot attempts too, as the Warriors got up 92 shots to the Bulls’ 84 on the night. The Bulls need the offense to stay in games at the moment.
- Starters. The Bulls’ starters impressed, with all scoring in double-digits. Nikola Vucevic highlighted the Bulls’ offense in his second game with them, recording 21 points, nine rebounds, and six assists on 9/13 shooting from the field. Patrick Williams showed off his mid-range game for the Bulls with 14 points, six rebounds, and four assists. Satoransky nearly put up a double-double with 14 points and eight assists.
- Zach LaVine. Is LaVine’s ankle injury becoming a cause for concern? He hardly played at all in the fourth quarter. LaVine also shot miserably from the floor, shooting 25 percent from the field and 1/7 from distance. He had just 12 points on the night and highlighted four turnovers with two offensive fouls called on him. It was encouraging to see the Bulls take lead changes on the Warriors in the first quarter without him scoring until 10:06 in the second quarter.
- Free Throws. Another missing puzzle piece for the Bulls — free throws. They did get to the charity stripe more than the Warriors, taking 11 shots to the Warriors’ nine attempts. However, 11 is not going to do the job for them. Credit is due where credit is due, however, to the Bulls’ 58 points in the paint in comparison to the Warriors’ 46. That certainly came from the open space the Warriors had from distance, sinking 16/38 from the three-point line.
- Transition. While not extremely evident, the Bulls did score 15 fast-break points over the Warriors’ 11 in that category. If the Bulls can step up their defense, their transition offense could become one of the better in the NBA. Troy Brown Jr. highlighted a fast break steal and dunk in garbage time. He, Aminu, Green, and LaVine could soon become high-flyers on transition if they can get their defense together.
- Daniel Theis Effect. Save the best for last. Theis was not all that impressive on offense, with just six points, two rebounds, and three assists. He did impress Bulls fans with a posterizing slam dunk over James Wiseman on a lob from Williams. His defense was the major highlight. Bulls fans glorified his presence on the court and watched him record two blocks, one steal, and protect the rim with aggression. Theis’s energy is something Bulls’ big men need to replicate for upcoming games.
The Bulls will travel to Phoenix to take on the Suns on Wednesday at 9 p.m.