The Bulls are riding high heading into this game, but unfortunately some of the shine will be off the matchup due to absences.
News broke on Thursday that Nikola Vucevic received a positive COVID test and is now expected to miss 10 days. Vuc certainly hasn’t played to his capabilities so far this season, but he’s an immensely important piece on both sides of the ball. With Patrick Williams also out, it is a very limited frontcourt rotation left for the Bulls. You’d expect Tony Bradley to start and some more minutes for Alize Johnson, who got in a bit versus the Mavericks after receiving DNPs the prior four games.
Luckily that may be balanced out a bit in this game by a possible Draymond Green absence: he’s listed as questionable.
If Green is out, the Warriors will rely even more on Stephen Curry, who has been remarkable so far this season in his team’s fast start. They have played a relatively easy home-heavy schedule, but after these 11 games the Warriors are second in offense and first in defense.
There will be a very interesting clash of styles offensively: behind Curry, the Warriors are third in the league at 3-point attempt rate, where nearly 48% of their shots are from distance. The Bulls are next-to-last with their mark coming in at just over 31%. And with Vucevic out, that number could be even lower.
So the Bulls will have to make up the difference in this ‘math problem’ by making those shots difficult — you’d figure Alex Caruso is one of the better defensive weapons against Curry, so perhaps he starts? — and making up for it how they have all season with free throws and turnover differential. One of the Warriors’ few statistical shortcomings is their offensive turnover percentage (22nd in the league), so an even-more-undersized-than-usual Bulls team needs to be extra ball-hawky.
This should be a fun one: both teams playing well and are entertaining while doing so. National TV Finals preview?!?!?
Also, beware the Otto Porter Jr. revenge game! He’s actually playing quite well in his limited minutes off the bench.
Same story for the Bulls, with Vucevic joining Williams and Coby White as long-term absences.
For the Warriors, beyond Green’s status, Damion Lee is also questionable.
Game Time: 9 p.m. CT on ESPN. The first national TV game is Bucks-Celtics at 6:30, so it’s possible actual tip-off time is a bit later.