Can the Bulls slow down Curry and the Warriors?

Can the Bulls slow down Curry and the Warriors?
February 26, 2014, 8:15 am
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Mark Strotman

There’s a distinct difference between the offenses run in the Eastern and Western Conferences, and tonight at the United Center, the Bulls likely will have to keep up with one of the top scoring teams in the NBA. It’s all happening tonight on Comcast SportsNet, beginning at 6:30 p.m. with Bulls Pregame Live.

The Bulls enter Wednesday night’s action as the NBA’s lowest scoring team. Averaging a shade under 93 points per game, they have seen an uptick in scoring of late, topping the 100-point plateau three times in the last six games after doing so just five times between Christmas and their six-game road trip in early February.

[Bulls notes: Dunleavy is team's ironman for an evening]

That point splurge will need to continue tonight against the Golden State Warriors and their 10th-highest scoring offense (103.3 points per game). Mark Jackson’s group has won six of their last eight –- including a home win against the Bulls earlier in the month -– while averaging 105.5 points over that span, and they’ve been led by none other than Stephen Curry, who has elevated his play to an MVP-type level as Golden State battles for positioning in the rugged West.

In his fifth NBA season, the first-time All-Star starter is averaging career-bests in points (24.2) and assists (8.9) and has become one of the better dual-threat point guards in the league.

During that eight-game stretch for the Warriors, Curry began hotter than ever. He averaged 28.5 points on 59 percent shooting, 4.3 3-pointers (on 59 percent shooting beyond the arc) and 8.3 assists. His numbers included a 34-point, nine-assist effort against the Bulls and a 23-point outing in the Warriors’ explosive 43-point win over the Sixers.

But in his past four games, Curry has seen a dip in those numbers. He’s averaging just 18.5 points on a paltry 45 percent shooting and just 7.8 assists, all of which are down from his season averages. In three of those four games, he has scored fewer than 20 points; in the 15 games prior to that stretch he had scored in the teens just twice.

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There are two schools of thought here: that Curry is due for a breakout game, or that the Bulls are catching him at the right time. Either way, tonight’s contest likely will come down to how well the Bulls can defend the league’s best outside shooter. They didn’t fare well against the Hawks –- Atlanta made 14 threes and shot 42 percent from beyond the arc last night –- but still came away with the win. That’s asking for trouble, however, against the Warriors.

All the action is happening tonight on Comcast SportsNet. Stay with us after the game, too, for Bulls Postgame Live, as Mark Schanowski and Will Perdue analyze the contest, show highlights and hear from Tom Thibodeau and the players from the locker room. You can also stay interactive with Bulls Pulse, checking out the latest from social media all evening long.