What to Watch For: Bulls-Warriors


The Chicago Bulls will get their crack at ending the Golden State Warriors’ undefeated start to this season on Friday night. Here’s a few things to watch for with the shorthanded Bulls and the 13-0 Warriors.

You probably couldn’t muster a good attempt to explain in words how good the Golden State Warriors have been so far this season. The defending NBA champions are 13-0. They’re two wins away from tying the best start to a NBA season in the league’s history. Stephen Curry is averaging over 34 points per game in the first chunk of the season.

Enter the Chicago Bulls.

The Bulls have been more up-and-down than any franchise in the Association through the first few weeks of the season and they still remain on the top tier of teams in the Eastern Conference at 8-3. On Wednesday, the Bulls began a four-game road trip with a 103-97 win over the Phoenix Suns without point guard Derrick Rose.

ALSO AT PIPPEN AIN’T EASY: The Jimmy Butler Takeover Runs Through Phoenix

Rose will “most likely” miss Friday’s game with a sore left ankle, which leaves Kirk Hinrich and E’Twaun Moore to handle the lead guard spot against the best player on the planet right now. That’s not exactly ideal.

Jimmy Butler — who scored a game-high 32 points on Wednesday night — will likely guard Stephen Curry at times on Friday, but there’s only so much that the $95 million man can do in 48 minutes (pending another overtime thriller between the two teams).

With the Bulls undermanned and looking dead in the water before the ball is even thrown in the air, here’s a few things to look out for on Friday night.

Stephen Curry is really, really good

It may seem impossible to believe, but the 2014-15 NBA MVP has gotten even better this season.

In the 13-0 start for Golden State, Stephen Curry is averaging 34.2 points per game on 52 percent shooting. Not only is Curry averaging over 34 points per contest, he’s shooting 11.5 three-pointers per game and making 45.3 percent of them.

How is that fair to anyone?

The Warriors are the best team in the NBA and it’s not particularly close either. Jimmy Butler may be able to slow Curry at times, but when the Warriors have pieces like Draymond Green and Klay Thompson, it makes Friday’s task for the Bulls that much harder.

The Bulls have to take care of the basketball

In Wednesday’s win over Phoenix, the Bulls turned the ball over 19 times.

If they do that against the undefeated Warriors, they’ll lose by *at least* 20. Golden State is a team that can strike from any angle at any time. You could be up six and playing well, then three minutes later, you’re down 10 and wondering what the heck just happened.

The Bulls have to be smart with the basketball and run their sets precisely. Mistakes have to be at a minimum for the Bulls to stay in the game on Friday night. Entering their 12th game of the season, the Bulls are 9th in the NBA in team turnovers per game (13.8). Golden State may be 23rd in the league with 15.8, but they also force 15.8 turnovers per game because, well … they’re the champs.

It’s Jimmy Butler’s team

The Chicago Bulls gave Jimmy Butler a five-year, $95 million deal this offseason to be a centerpiece of the future for the franchise.

He played like that kind of player on Wednesday night in Phoenix, scoring 14 of his 32 points in the final quarter to seal the deal for the Bulls. Friday presents a whole other challenge for Butler. He’s probably going to find himself guarding four different players at some points in the game — Curry, Thompson, Green and Andre Iguodala — and he’s going to have to provide some offense for the Bulls to stay in the game.

Nights like these are why you paid him.

Other notes:

  • Yes, the Bulls are the last team to defeat the Warriors in the regular season at Oracle Arena. Derrick Rose hit a ridiculous stepback over Klay Thompson to seal an improbable 113-111 overtime win this past January. How that happened still doesn’t make any sense.
  • Warriors injury report includes:
  • Aaron Brooks (hamstring strain) will not play on Friday night against Golden State. Brooks strained the hamstring on Wednesday night against Phoenix.
  • Tip-off between the Bulls and Warriors is scheduled for 9:30 PM CT on ESPN (pending on when the San Antonio-New Orleans game ends).