Draymond Green's nickname in college was the Dancing Bear. Beloved in Michigan State and by head coach Tom Izzo, the name stuck because of his portly figure and quick feet. Similar to San Francisco Giants legend Pablo Sandoval, Green was extremely effective at the college level despite the extra weight. But because of those pounds, plus a combination of his hitchy jump shot and lack of tangible measurables, he slid to the second round. Most called the pick a steal for the Golden State Warriors. Grand larceny is what it has become.
The Chicago Bulls' vaunted defense has shown some slippage this season with Pau Gasol playing big minutes, but it executed the defensive game plan nicely in the beginning. They forced Stephen Curry off screens and into the paint and Klay Thompson away from the three-point line. Overall, the Splash Brothers combined for just 13 three-point attempts and three makes. Joakim Noah made a conscious effort to contain Curry off the picks, and even though he usually recovers to the big man, the extra space between a mid-range jumper and the three-point line made all the difference. Green canned seven threes off 13 attempts, with nearly all of them wide open. The Bulls didn't seem to mind Green shooting so much. They learned the hard way that he is up to the task and much more.
On defense, Green met his counterpart in terms of importance and underrated-ness in Taj Gibson. With Gibson just coming off an ankle injury, Green abused him to the point of blocking him two times in the post. When tasked with sticking on Noah, Green played off of him and kept him off the boards just enough to allow enough spacing in the lineup. Green somehow worked the game as a stretch-four and traditional power forward. A phenomenal performance against an elite Eastern Conference team, for a guy who's about to get paid. Just watch the celebrations. And while the weight is gone now, he's still an absolute bear.
1. Klay Thompson shot for volume, going 9-of-23 from the field. The highs were good to see, as he got to the line four times and finished several tough drives to the basket. The lows were a bit redundant in terms of overall impact, and he missed some bunnies (happening a bit more regularly) and forced some shots. He also missed Curry in transition, so that's the usual stuff. Regardless, he missed enough open shots to call this just a make-or-miss game.
2. Rose went at Steph to start the game, drawing a couple quick fouls. Then he mysteriously lost all aggressiveness and shot seven threes, making just one. He apparently had some criticism of Steph before the game but I can't seem to find it anywhere. It was not a memorable game for Rose as he struggled on offense and was awful on defense chasing Curry on screens.
3. The starters-bench juggling units are two-fold in how they operate. In the first half, there wasn't enough offense for the defense to matter as the Bulls reeled off jumpers and forced turnovers. Then in the second half, a Livingston-Green-Thompson-Iguodala-Speights unit allowed the Warriors to flourish in transition as they destroyed a Bulls offense that was apparently incapable of recognizing just how quick and long the Warriors were. The lineup allowed Speights to find spots in the middle of the floor, and on nights when Green is stretching the floor there are just enough headaches on offense to help the stifling defense.
4. Shaun Livingston is healthy. He's just absurdly long as a point guard and filled in the passing lanes almost as well as Andre Iguodala -- which is ridiculous when you realize that Thompson and Draymond are also on the floor. On offense, he's finally clicking. He found Speights on a backcut on the baseline. The scariest and most impressive play came with Livingston backing down Brooks on a post-up. He is almost automatic with his turnaround jumper with how long and smooth he is, and that distracts opposing defenses just enough to allow an off-ball Warriors offense that's much improved this year. Green set a screen at the top of the key, and as the Bulls realized it was happening, Thompson had already flicked open for a wide-open three.
5. Curry's release might be the quickest in the NBA. He came off a transition screen in the first quarter and the ball was nearly in the net before the Bulls could scream "blitz!" out their pick-and-roll coverage.
The 17-2 Golden State Warriors travel to Minnesota to take on the Timberwolves on Monday at 5 p.m. PST.