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Preview: With help returning, can the Warriors turn the tide by beating the Bulls tonight?

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D’Angelo Russell, Draymond Green, and Kevon Looney are back, but the needle hasn’t moved much just yet

Chicago Bulls v Golden State Warriors

As we’ve watched the Golden State Warriors struggle out to the league’s worst record, the mantra of “just wait till we get everyone back” has been the soothing canticle that has well served a fan base that became all too accustomed to winning.

Now we’ve got most of the moving pieces back in place and folks are eagerly awaiting a change. Kevon Looney and D’Angelo Russell showed plenty of rust, and Draymond Green is still trying to work out a way to carry an inferior roster after a career as the support healer (it’s a video game reference, sorry).

And as Anthony Slater conveyed on Twitter, it sounds like Jordan Poole could be inching closer to a return from an extended injury due to an abductor strain:


GAME DETAILS

WHO: Golden State Warriors ( ) at Chicago Bull ( )

WHEN: Friday, December 6 2019; 5pm PST

WHERE: United Airlines Center, Chicago, IL

WATCH: NBC Sports Bay Area

Blog Buddy: Blog a bull


Defense rising, but now the offense is falling off

Coming into the season, you could tell just from looking at the roster that the Warriors were going to struggle on the defensive end. Of course, this was when we were laboring under the delusion that Steph Curry would be here all season, and that the Warriors wouldn’t be forced into an eight man roster for a month straight.

And the defense has been bad - possibly even worse than expected. After lurking down at the very bottom of the league’s defensive efficiency metrics all season, they’ve finally climbed up a few slots. No longer the worst, but still bad enough to make Steve Kerr break a clipboard, the team’s ability to improve on defense is going to be one of the more interesting struggles as the new year unfolds.

Some of this is the return of our limited remaining defensive stalwarts, Green and Looney. But on top of that, it looks like some of the Warriors new rotation players are beginning to soak up some of the best habits and techniques.

Unfortunately, like the cartoon of plugging holes in the dam with your fingers, and then toes, new holes have opened up in Golden State that are causing a whole new set of problems. It’s a running joke around here, but I’ve got to say it: a lot of it is because of the personnel we’ve been left with. Over to the ever-excellent Anthony Slater of The Athletic:

But Kerr had 11 guys at his disposal on Wednesday night for the first time in a month. Seven of them were either guards or wings (including the versatile Green), so it seemed a bit strange how often two of his supposed centers shared the court together. For large chunks of the game, Looney played alongside Cauley-Stein and Spellman played alongside Chriss.

The pairings crunched the court and led to several clunky offensive sets. Take a mid-second-quarter possession, for example. Cauley-Stein, Looney and Green were all on the court together, alongside Russell and Glenn Robinson.

Russell, who found enough space for 18 points in 25 minutes, didn’t have much shooting or playmaking spread around him.

Currently, the Warriors offense has precipitously dropped, all the way down to 3rd worst in the NBA managing just a paltry 103.5 points per 100 possessions.

Some of the problem is rust, and we certainly aren’t going to bag on Russell for not carrying the team to immediate offensive excellence. But some of the problem is structural. Bram, Daniel and I talked about this on our recent podcast, but there are a lot of “placeholder” players on this team right now. Without Curry, and forced to play large chunks of the season without our best remaining scorers the Warriors are just flat out ill-equipped to run an effective attack against modern NBA defenses.

Oh hey, it’s the Bulls!? Maybe we can win again, please?

Back on November 27th, the Warriors pulled off one of their four wins. Already responsible for a quarter of our win totals, perhaps it’s not too much to ask for Chicago to give us one more.

Or maybe it is.

Chicago has now won two games in a row, a feat that this Warriors team can only dream of. But miracles do happen. And with the Warriors approaching full(ish) strength finally, maybe we just need a minor miracle rather than a full on basketball Moses moment.

Prediction

Yeah, we are going to lose. The Warriors offense is sluggish, the defense is horrid, but our hearts are strong. Tank on, you beautiful disaster.

Tank on.