As much as the Golden State Warriors have shuffled toward the fringes of the NBA's elite this season, they still have yet to master the all-important art of being a targeted team. They'll get up for the other good teams, but they are too often caught flat-footed against presumably inferior competition.
The Dubs had recently gone through a particularly rough patch of playing to the level of their opposition, good and bad. They beat the Los Angeles Clippers and Portland Trail Blazers in late January, but it was only in between close losses to the T-Wolves and Wizards. Golden State's home drubbing at Charlotte's hands served as the pinnacle of the Warriors' inconsistent ways.
They started off slowly against the offensively challenged Bulls on Thursday, falling behind by 16 points in the second quarter. Luckily for the Warriors, though, Stephen Curry had it going on, as did Klay Thompson. The "Splash Bros" combined for 56 points on 21-of-35 shooting, including a 7-of-12 performance from three-point range.
Such is the blessing and curse of being a team whose efforts are organized around the talents of two somewhat streaky shooters. On some level, the Dubs feel like they can fall behind and simply shoot their way back into the game if need be. That works well enough now, when the competition is middling more often than not, but it won't cut it once the field is narrowed down to the best in the West.
At that point, the Warriors will have to diversify their scoring across the floor and lean on the strength of their much-improved defense, whether or not their backcourt has a hot hand (or two). Otherwise, an early exit could once again be in store for a club with serious "Cinderella potential."