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Warriors vs. Bulls Preview: In search of a win, take 5

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Can the Warriors finally find their way back into the win column?

Golden State Warriors v Chicago Bulls Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The Golden State Warriors got a full weekend off, and whoa did they need it. After dropping four straight games by a combined 56 points, the Dubs got to hang out at home for the weekend, and hopefully kick back their feet.

And now they get to spring back into action, and try to avoid a season-worst five-game losing streak. It even looks like they’ll get the return of Steph Curry, who practiced on Sunday and is listed as questionable. Wouldn’t that be nice.

The deets

Who: Golden State Warriors (22-24) vs. Chicago Bulls (19-25)

When: 7:00 p.m. PT

Where: Chase Center, San Francisco, California

TV: NBC Sports Bay Area

Projected starting lineups:

Warriors: Stephen Curry, Kelly Oubre Jr., Andrew Wiggins, Draymond Green, James Wiseman
Bulls: Tomáš Satoranský, Zach LaVine, Patrick Williams, Lauri Markkanen, Nikola Vučević

Last results:

Warriors: Lost to the Hawks 124-108 — 1-4 in their last 5 games
Bulls: Lost to the Spurs 120-104 — 1-4 in their last 5 games

Team ratings (garbage-time adjusted, per Cleaning The Glass):

Warriors: 109.0 offense (23rd), 111.6 defense (10th), -2.5 net (22nd)
Bulls: 112.0 offense (15th), 113.1 defense (19th), -1.1 net (19th)

The story

I would love for the story to be in some way, shape, or form about the Bulls or the matchup, but it’s not. For the Warriors, the story is simply about finding a way — any way — to win. The opponent doesn’t matter.

After treading water through a brutal schedule, they finally found an opening to make a run, and have responded with four straight losses.

Yes, Curry has been absent all four of those losses, but their showings have still been unacceptably poor. Teams should take a significant hit when they lose their star, but they should still be competitive. Over the last few games, the Warriors have been anything but that.

As a result, they’ve tumbled from a team with aspirations of moving above the play-in round, to a team just trying to not fall out of it. They’re only a game away from being on the outside of the playoff picture; they need a win something fierce.

Players to watch

Warrior to watch: Andrew Wiggins.

Wiggins hasn’t been the consistent performer the Warriors were hoping to get from him this year, but he has flashed moments of brilliance. In his last two games he’s combined for 55 points, 17 rebounds, and 7 assists, while shooting 54.1% from the field and 58.3% from three-point range. Last week he put up 40 on 14-for-24 shooting in the Warriors most recent win.

All of that has led to him having the most efficient offensive season of his career. The Warriors need that to continue, so they can find reliable offensive options behind Curry. And if his defense bounced back to early season levels, that sure would help a unit that is suddenly sinking.

Bull to watch: Nikola Vučević.

The Bulls did something we rarely see at the trade deadline, and swung a trade for a star despite being an under-.500 team. It was a unique move, and I love it.

Vučević, a two-time All-Star, is averaging 24.5 points, 11.7 rebounds, and 3.8 assists per game this year, while shooting a blistering 40.8% from distance. He’s a dynamic weapon to pair next to Zach LaVine, and Chicago has the chance to have an explosive offense behind those two.

This will only be Vooch’s second game with his new team though, so there’s a chance there’s still some wrinkles to iron out.

Matchup to watch: Kelly Oubre Jr. vs. Zach LaVine.

It’s hard to find matchups as athletic as Oubre vs. LaVine. Talk about lengthy leapers!

Even with the addition of Vučević, LaVine — a first-time All-Star this month — is the engine in the Bulls’ offense, and it will be important that Oubre flex his on-ball defensive prowess, while hopefully also making Chicago’s star work on the other end of the court.

Keys to victory

  • Limit the amount of easy shots that Nikola Vučević gets
  • Make Chicago work on defense, and don’t just settle for early and bad shots
  • Win the three-point battle and the transition offense battle

A win really would be nice, Dubs.