Warriors look to get back on track vs. Bulls
"The message remains the same. But as a coach, a leader, you've got to find different ways to present, to package it, to remix it." -- Mark Jackson (USATI)
David Lee and the Warriors last season were swept (2-0) by Joakim Noah and the Bulls, losing each game by double digits. (USATI)
Programming note: Immediately after the Bulls-Warriors game Thursday night, change the channel to Comcast SportsNet Bay Area for complete postgame coverage
OAKLAND – Andre Iguodala made some trenchant comments after the Warriors' Thursday shootaround and the team would be wise to consider his thoughts.
Specifically, the veteran wing talked about the importance of passing. Though he was referring to Thursday night's game against the notoriously stingy Bulls defense, Iguodala's words could be applied on a regular basis.
"You've got to move the ball, can't let the ball stick too much," he said. "(Use) more than one ball reversal, (use) two or three."
When the Warriors swing the ball, when they pass it with precision and purpose, they are exceedingly tough to defend. They break down defenses, get open shots and quickly get in position to defend.
Lately, however, the Warriors too often have lapsed into one-on-one or two-on-two basketball. The pick-and-roll can be a beautiful thing when the matchups are suitable, but sometimes it's wise to remember how hard it is for a defense to follow a rapidly moving ball.
The Warriors, to a man, say they had one of their more competitive practices on Wednesday, in the wake of a dreadful performance in a 91-75 loss to the Bobcats the previous night. It was necessary and it speaks to increasing urgency.
"We're getting our work in, trying to up the intensity," Iguodala said. "When you have a disappointing game, you kind of up it a little bit, trying to get out of a funk. So that's the plan."
Iguodala's point about passing is salient. Team assists are down overall, and the numbers of point guard Stephen Curry have become less consistent. Though he averages 9.1 assists per game and piled up 11 on Tuesday, he had only 23 (5.75 per game) in the previous four games.
Ball movement benefits Curry in another way, reducing the number of times he tries to break down defenses one-on-one. That's where he commits an inordinate amount of turnovers.
To be determined Thursday night is whether the team is on board, whether in the wake of an ugly loss it can get back to the passing and defending that shows so well in its better games.
"The message remains the same," coach Mark Jackson said. "But as a coach, a leader, you've got to find different ways to present, to package it, to remix it. But the message is the same. The guys understand that.
We know when we win, why we win, and when we lose, and don't play particularly well, why we don't."
MATCHUPS TO WATCH
Andrew Bogut/David Lee vs. Joakim Noah/Carlos Boozer: Have to believe Jackson will cross-match here, putting Bogut on the beefy (266 pounds) Boozer and Lee on the longer but more willowy Noah. Another reason: Boozer likes to plant himself on the block, while Noah is a buzz of activity. Boozer has been a load for the Warriors, for a long time, but having Bogut should offset his interior presence.
Klay Thompson vs. Jimmy Butler: Two of the taller guards, both 6-foot-7, will be eye to eye. Both take as much pride in their defense as their offense. Thompson is the slumping shooter sure to get hot at any time, whereas Butler is nowhere near as good a shooter but plays a more versatile offensive game.
Oracle crowd vs. Mike Dunleavy: Taken third overall by the Warriors in 2002, Dunleavy became an object of derision within minutes. Though obviously skilled, he never found a position or displayed toughness, cultivating the image of a disappointing whiner. He hears about it every time he enters Oracle.
INJURY REPORT: For the Warriors, C Festus Ezeli (right knee surgery) and G Nemanja Nedovic (strained left hamstring) are out indefinitely.
For the Bulls, G Derrick Rose (right knee surgery) is out.
LAST 10: Warriors 4-6, Bulls 6-4
SERIES HISTORY: The Warriors last season were swept (2-0) by the Bulls, losing each game by double digits, and have lost seven of the last 10 meetings. Yet the Warriors have won 11 of the last 14 meetings in Oakland.