After escaping New York, the Warriors head to another Gotham tonight to face the Chicago Bulls (3-3). The Bulls have struggled out the gates as this Carlos Boozer-less team has relied heavily on Derrick Rose as the focal point of their offense. Centerpieces Rose and Joakim Noah are both having breakout season, averaging 24 points/9 assists and 15 points/15 rebounds, respectively. Luol Deng, the wing of constant trade rumors involving Denver Nuggets F Carmelo Anthony, had an impressive 40 point explosion a few games prior and has been a consistent offensive weapon, averaging 19 points per game.
The Warriors will need help from their second unit as Coach Keith Smart burned through his first unit, which every player, except for Biedrins, played over 40 minutes. The Bull have a capable second unit featuring sharp shooterKyle Korver, who has hurt the Warriors repeatedly in the past, along with former Warrior CJ Watson, who either lights it up or stinks it up. Korver has played sparingly but is averaging over 50% of 3pt field goals.
On the second game of a back-to-back, the Warriors will need more productivity from players like Brandan Wright and Rodney Carney. Jeremy Lin was the first man off the bench, but based on Smart's short leash and the Warriors shortcomings at holding onto leads, it's unclear whether we will see much of Lin against a team like the Bulls. Then again, Lin did play valuable minutes against the Toronto Raptors, particularly when matched against Jose Calderon. Lin, currently, struggles against quicker and stronger point guards, such as Jarret Jack of the Raptors and Raymond Felton of the New York Knicks. Neither of them are elite players either, but formidable backups or average starters.
While the Bulls may be the Warriors first "real" test of their talents, given that their fast start can be attributed to teams many people would consider to be mediocre, Matt Steinmetz of CSN Bay Area asks us to consider how bad the Warriors have been this year compared to last what they might have been like last year had they been in similar down-to-the-buzzer situations:
Again, the Raptors and the Knicks aren't the class of the league by a longshot. But still. What do you want the Warriors to do? Not beat them? Hey, you win on the road in consecutive games, that's solid no matter who you're playing.
Did I think the Warriors would be heading into this game with the Bulls at 6-2? Well, I didn't go through the schedule game by game, but probably not. By the same token, now that they're 6-2, do I think they're going to be good? I don't know.
I know this: If the Warriors lose Monta Ellis they're going nowhere, and if they lose either Stephen Curry or David Lee they're in real trouble.
But if they stay healthy ... Well, that's what I'm trying to say. Eight games, the Warriors are 6-2 and I don't really know what to make of them.