Controlling the tempo key versus Warriors


Dec 11

By Adam Fluck

If the Bulls are to break out of a slump in which the team has lost nine of 10 games, controlling the tempo and transition defense will be among the keys when facing the Golden State Warriors on Friday night.

“Tempo is real important, no question,” said Del Negro. “They really get up and down [the court]. If you think you’re going to outscore them, you’re going to have a long night. We want to be aggressive going to the basket, take open shots when they’re there and be smart about it. Turnovers will kill you. [The Warriors] are No. 1 in the league in fast break points. They play small, but they have a lot of guys that can take you off the dribble and put pressure on you.”

While an improvement defensively is imperative for Chicago, playing the Warriors, who allow a league-high 112.5 points per game, could help them get things going offensively.

“We’ve got to be smart about our shot selection and executing our playsets on the offensive end,” said Del Negro. “That will help our transition defense and our defense overall.”

The Bulls’ defense will have its hands full containing fifth-year guard Monta Ellis, averaging 24.4 points, 5.3 assists and 4.2 rebounds per game this season.

“He’s really explosive,” said Del Negro. “He can take it to the basket, is a great athlete, and he’s quick. He can shoot the ball off the dribble and he’s a handful. The way they play, it makes him hard to find. And when you do find him, you’re chasing him. He makes it difficult because he has the combination of speed with the jump shot and the ability to get to the rim and make plays.”

With the Boston Celtics in town on Saturday and the Los Angeles Lakers visiting the United Center on Tuesday, Friday’s game against the 7-14 Warriors is all the more important to get back in the win column.

 “We have to find a way to get the spirits up,” said Joakim Noah. “I feel like I have to do a better job as a player to do that. We get into some funks especially when things aren’t going our way. We seem to get down on ourselves and that’s been a reoccurring pattern. We’ve just got to find a way to get out of that, learn from it, and win.”

On Thursday, Noah received a call from his college coach, Billy Donovan, who is still in Gainesville coaching the 11th ranked Florida Gators. Noah called him one of his favorite mentors and said that it was good to talk to him for advice.

As for the Bulls, Noah has some thoughts of his own on turning things around.

“We’re a capable team,” he said. “We have enough talent to win games. Even when I was playing on those championship teams in college, a lot of people doubted us. The one thing that we did was believe in each other, our abilities and the system. It’s important that we believe in each other. If we can do that, we’ll put ourselves in a better position to win games.”

Audio—Bulls Head Coach Vinny Del Negro on increasing Brad Miller’s production, Taj Gibson’s attitude in coming off the bench, and controlling the tempo against Golden State (12.11.09):

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