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Bulls tip off 6-game road trip against Warriors

Photo Credit: ProBasketballTalk.com

Photo Credit: ProBasketballTalk.com

The Chicago Bulls have had quite the eventful month. After winning 13 of 15 games from December to early January, the Bulls looked like the team to beat in the Eastern Conference.

But since moving to 25-10 on Jan. 5, Chicago has gone just 4-7 over its last 11 games. Things were especially ugly during an eight-game stretch that featured six losses and a rumor about Tom Thibodeau’s tenuous job security as head coach. The Bulls responded to that rumor with two impressive wins over the San Antonio Spurs and Dallas Mavericks, but that was followed up by a home dud against the Miami Heat. Chicago is just 13-11 straight up at home and a poor 8-16 against the spread, according to VegasInsider.com.

The Bulls have been much better on the road (16-6 straight up and 12-10 against the spread), and they begin a six-game road trip on Tuesday night. The bad news is that road trip tips off against the league-best Golden State Warriors, who are 36-6 on the season. The Warriors are 21-1 at home and are the proud owners of a 19-game home winning streak, a franchise record. Golden State is 16-5 at home against the spread.

Chicago will once again be without Mike Dunleavy, who has missed nearly the entire month with an ankle injury. The absence of Dunleavy has been felt, but an even bigger problem is the possibility of Jimmy Butler missing the game with an illness. The Bulls need Butler not only for his offense, but especially his defense against Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson. If Butler is unable to go, Tony Snell and Kirk Hinrich would be in line for a lot of minutes. Suffice to say, that would be a huge problem against Golden State.

This is the second and final matchup between the Bulls and Warriors this regular season. Golden State went into the United Center and took care of Chicago in early December, earning a 112-102 victory on the back of Draymond Green. Green scored a career-high 31 points and knocked down 7-of-13 from three-point range in the win. The Warriors made it a point to get the ball to Green outside the arc, who was often left wide open because Joakim Noah was slow getting out to defend the power forward.

It will be interesting to see if Thibodeau makes major adjustments to avoid getting killed by Green again. The problem is too much focus on Green may open things up for Curry, Thompson and Harrison Barnes, and that’s no good either. That’s the beauty of Golden State. There are just so many weapons that can beat you.

The Warriors opened as a 10-point favorite in this game, but that has moved to 101⁄2 at most sports books. Betting on the Bulls to cover in this game would be a decent play if Butler is in the lineup, but it’s awfully risky given the uncertainty.

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