The Warriors travel to Chicago Friday night to take on a hyped-up Bulls outfit that had two players named to the Eastern Conference All-Star team. Forwards Joakim Noah and Luol Deng will be on the bench for the East All-Stars and will be looking to prove the coaches right in their first game since the selection. Golden State, surprisingly to some, will have only one representative come All-Star weekend in Houston. Star PG Stephen Curry was left out of the Western Conference team while forward David Lee got the nod from the coaches.
Curry, who averages 20.9 ppg and 6.6 apg this season, was seen as a sure thing for the Western bench but with a guard-heavy conference consisting of Kobe Bryant, Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook, Tony Parker and James Harden, the coaches were left with no option but to select Lee instead.
What does all this mean though?
Hopefully it means Curry explodes against the Bulls just to prove the coaches wrong, which is a real possibility. Deng aside, the Bulls are void of any decent perimeter defenders, which could be costly when Warriors coach Mark Jackson decides to go with the faster, shooting, three-guard lineup of Curry, Klay Thompson and Jarret Jack on the floor.
Look for much of the scoring to be done by the guards for the Warriors in this game, as Lee, who averages 19.6 ppg and 10.8 rpg on the season will have a tough time banging down low with the likes of Noah, Taj Gibson and Deng, who might guard him at times. On the other end of the floor however, Lee will have his hands full with forward Carlos Boozer, who has been on a tear recently, averaging 20 and 10 through the last 15 days.
Rebounding could be where the battle is won, with both teams ranking in the top 10 for the category this year. The likes of Lee, Carl Landry, Noah and Boozer all pull down consistent rebounding numbers, meaning their teams often win the second-chance points category in matchups.
The Bulls have looked good in their last two games, with convincing wins against under-performing Lakers and Pistons outfits, while the Warriors are on a three-game win streak, with huge wins over Western Conference rivals, the Clippers and the Thunder. The Dubs are now the only team in the league to have beaten those two teams, plus the Miami Heat, which represent three of the best four best records in the league.
With both teams being somewhat the surprise packets of their respected conference, look for it to be a heated battle as the Warriors will look to their outside shooting to get the job done while the Bulls will try to grind away down low against an undersized Dubs ensemble.
WHO: Golden State Warriors (26-15) @. Chicago (25-16).
WHERE: United Center, Chicago, IL
WHEN: Friday, January 25th, 8:00 PM ET
AT STAKE: Warriors will tie Memphis for fourth seed in the West with a win and a Grizzlies loss tomorrow, while Chicago looks to add a major scalp to their two-game winning streak.
PLAYER TO WATCH: Stephen Curry, could play a mean spite game. Joakim Noah and Luol Deng are beastly this year.
PREDICTION: Tough call, and I think it might just come down to the home court advantage for the Bulls. A lot of bodies down low that the Warriors might not be able to handle.