The Golden State Warriors (37-29) host the Chicago Bulls (35-29) on Friday night, capping a seven-game homestand. The W’s are currently 4-2 during the important stretch of games, and need to end the stand with a win.
Looking ahead in the schedule, Golden State travels to face the Houston Rockets on Sunday, the New Orleans Hornets on Monday for an always tough back-to-back on the road, and the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday. That’s a mini road trip that could easily hand them two, maybe even three losses.
That is why Friday night is such a big game. However, Chicago is a gritty team that has already beat the Warriors once this season. Golden State’s big men will really need to pick up their play and match the physical presence of Chicago’s duo Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer. Luckily for the Warriors, Chicago’s energy and rebounding reserve Taj Gibson is out with a sore knee.
Also out for Chicago are veteran guards Richard Hamilton (back) and Kirk Hinrich (foot). Superstar Derrick Rose, who has been cleared by his doctors to play, still isn’t ready to make his triumphant return, and won’t do so until he is both mentally and physically prepared.
Golden State will have to keep an eye out on former Warrior Nate Robinson who has played well as of late. Robinson has a knack for the theatrics while playing against his former teams during big games.
For the Warriors, they need another consistent performance by sixth man Jarrett Jack and rookie Harrison Barnes. Barnes will be matched up on the defensive maestro Luol Deng. This will be a matchup to keep an eye on early as Deng also leads the Bulls in scoring.
It will be interesting to see how Klay Thompson defends the much more physical Deng as he slides over to the small forward position when Jack enters the game. This could be the situation when coach Mark Jackson finally sticks with Barnes down the stretch, barring an unconscious 3-point shooting night from Thompson.
When the Warriors get their role players going, it opens things up for flame-thrower Steph Curry, who has been shooting the lights out lately. In the past 10 games, Curry is averaging 28.3 points, 7.4 assists, and 3.7 rebounds while shooting 50 percent from the field.
However, the one drawback in Curry’s game has been turnovers. He has averaged 3.1 per game this season, and will need to cut those down as his team inches closer to the postseason.
The Bulls are coming off an atrocious performance while visiting the Sacramento Kings, losing 121-79. Coach Tom Thibodeau will surely have his team back on track for Friday night’s matchup. It will be another big test for the Warriors and their quest for the playoffs.
You can follow Rich Peters on twitter @Tricky_Roma.