The Golden State Warriors suffered their 11th loss of the season against the Chicago Bulls 87-94 in the third game of their road trip. This marks the end of one of the longest running streaks in the NBA (146 regular season games without back-to-back losses) and is a testament to the resilience of this Warriors squad.
The streak started in April 2015 and seemed almost certainly doomed tonight with the Bulls up 91-85 with less than a minute left. The Warriors ran a signature out of time out play that gave Andre Iguodala a wide-open layup and forced a stop at the other end.
Stephen Curry got a great look at a three to bring the Warriors within three, but following the pattern of many shots this game, the ball rattled in the rim and popped out. The Warriors shot 20 percent from three, making just six of their 30 attempts. The Bulls made one less three on 11 less attempts.
This road trip has not been kind to the Splash Brothers. They were a combined three of 22 from range tonight and are 11 for 63 over the last three games, hitting just 17.5 percent of their attempts. While there will be an inevitable return to the mean, the Warriors must find a way score in the meantime while the shots aren’t falling. Tonight was especially disheartening, as every shot seemed to go in and then just rim out after a bad bounce. The Warriors’ most effective scoring came in transition, where the Bulls also found success.
Credit the Bulls for a hard-fought game. Though the Warriors were missing part open or mostly-open shots, the Bulls affected the pace of the game and forced the Warriors to slow down. While the Bulls isolated and slowed down on their halfcourt sets, they pushed the ball up court with speed in transition, especially against the Warriors’ defensive unit that leans heavily on veterans Andre Iguodala, Shaun Livingston, and David West. The Bulls have beaten the Boston Celtics and San Antonio Spurs at home this season and beat the Cleveland Cavaliers in Cleveland.
This was the Warriors first game without Kevin Durant, and its clear the team still needs to adjust to his absence. His impact was noticeably missing, as the Warriors could have desperately used his shot creation and ability to get to the line on a night where they couldn’t buy a bucket. These don’t need to be large adjustments, but the offense must find a way to flow more through Stephen Curry, and utilize the high pick-and-roll that created so much success last season.
Patrick McCaw had a great game in what is his 5th professional start. He scored 11 points and played great defense against a tough rotation of Jimmy Butler, Dwyane Wade, and Rajon Rondo. While it is clear he still needs to put on some muscle, his instincts and basketball IQ belies his rookie status. He has showed willingness to drive with aggression towards the rim, and was rewarded with a trip to the line.
Klay Thompson had a forgettable performance, making just one of his 11 attempted threes, but he still found ways to contribute on defense with solid isolation defense on Jimmy Butler, a tough cover for any defender. Recent acquisition and returning Warrior Matt Barnes saw crunch time minutes tonight, checking in with five minutes left in the game, and didn’t really affect the game, though expect him to become more acclimated with a chance to practice more with the team. He delivered a great pass to Thompson in the corner for what would have been a signature transition three, but the shot bricked off the far side of the iron.
Stephen Curry continued his poor shooting slump, making just two of his 11 attempted threes, but was aggressive in driving to the rim, and his active defense resulted in five steals. Additionally, he logged six rebounds, five assists, and four turnovers.
Draymond Green made the same number of threes as Curry while playing great defense all game long. On a night in which the whole team isn’t hitting, Green has every right to try his hand at a three in rhythm. The Warriors bench made just seven of their 18 attempted shots, and James Michael McAdoo and Kevon Looney received DNPs. Andre Iguodala continues to play well, turning back the hands of a time with a dunk and more generally finishing with confidence that had seemed to elude the Finals MVP in the last year.