Warriors coach Keith Smart acknowledged his team's relative shutdown of Chicago was something to behold.
He said after the Warriors snapped the Bulls' six-game win streak on Saturday that his team played about 45 minutes of perfect defense. But he stopped short of saying the Warriors have arrived on that end of the court. Well short.
"We're not to where we can hang our hat on it," Smart said. "The hat's in the house. But it ain't on the wall."
Golden State's defense has held three consecutive opponents below 100 points, the first time it has done that since 2007. Utah, Milwaukee and Chicago averaged 88.3 points on 42.4 percent shooting.
To be sure, the Warriors were at home for all three games. And the Jazz played without its point guard and catalyst in Deron Williams. And the Bucks are one of the NBA's worst offensive teams.
But the Chicago game, Smart said, was the one that validated the Warriors' claims of progress on defense. More important, he said, it helps the coaches' efforts to get the players to buy in completely on that end.
"I see the picture of what we will be," Smart said. "We're working on it. Now guys are buying in. We are better. But we're trying to erase a long history."
The Warriors figure to get a stiff test Monday as Phoenix comes to town. The Suns have averaged 123.0 points and shot 52.7 percent from the field in their past eight games in Oakland.
Even with the recent stinginess, the Warriors still allow 105.9 points per game, which entering Sunday ranked 27th in the NBA.
Smart said the key to their recent success has been their attention to detail in following team-defense concepts. Saturday, they ran three defensive schemes against Bulls point guard Derrick Rose.
"It was weird," Rose told reporters after the game. "It's something we've never seen before, I guess. I just got to get used to it. "... I couldn't get a feel for the game. I just could not get into it. They wouldn't let me. I couldn't split (double teams). They dragged it out. Even the pick and roll they trapped. I guess we've got to get used to that."
Golden State also has excelled at pick-and-roll defense. And the emergence of rookie forward Ekpe Udoh gives the Warriors a solid defensive presence inside.
Smart said the real test will come as teams try to isolate the Warriors. He said his team's weakness is one-on-one defense.
When teams spread out the Warriors, leaving players on an island, the Warriors struggle. When teams with big perimeter players, such as Phoenix, try to post up the Warriors' smaller perimeter players, the Warriors struggle. When aggressive, athletic big men get a single Warrior on their back, with the double-team late or not coming, the Warriors struggle.
But Smart said he knows going forward how the Warriors can hold their own on defense. Their calling card would have to be on-point rotations, crisp execution of the game plan and all-out effort.
"Our effort (Saturday) is what you want to see," Udoh said. "We have to build off that until we can do it consistently."