Warriors vs. Bulls Preview: Chicago Has Edge Over Ailing Golden State

Action Network contributor Austin Wang previews Friday's NBA game between the Warriors and Bulls, including betting odds and a prediction.

Warriors vs. Bulls Odds

Warriors Odds +3.5
Bulls Odds -3.5
Over/Under 222.5
Time 8 p.m. ET
TV NBA League Pass
Odds via PointsBet. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.

Friday night features an intra-conference battle between two of the NBA’s elite teams.

The Golden State Warriors continue their road trip with a visit to Chicago to play the number one seed in the Eastern Conference. This will be the third game of their four-game road trip. This will also be the second game of a back-to-back and is their third game in four nights. Klay Thompson, who just returned to the NBA court after two-and-a-half years’ hiatus, will be sitting this game out.

The Chicago Bulls have continued their remarkable season.  They went on a nine-game winning streak beginning on December 19, but recently have hit a roadblock and lost two of their last three. They will be looking to bounce back after a 138-112 thrashing by the Brooklyn Nets at home.

Can the Bulls capitalize on the short-handed and fatigued Warriors? Let’s break down the matchup below.

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Curry, Ailing Warriors in Rare Slump

The Warriors have gotten off to an ugly start to their road trip with losses against the Memphis Grizzlies and the Milwaukee Bucks. Granted, those are two of the top teams in the NBA, but their level of competition is still extremely high against the top seed out East.

Thompson will be out, so Jordan Poole will start in his place. This is another back-to-back, so be wary of Otto Porter Jr. or Andre Iguodala resting as they’ve had a tendency to take frequent rest days. Draymond Green remains doubtful with a calf injury.

Another story to keep your eye on is the status of Gary Payton II. He suffered a back injury in the first quarter against the Bucks and did not return.

The Warriors got man-handled by the Bucks in Thursday’s 118-99 loss. Without Green or Payton II, they didn’t have many options to stop Giannis Antetokounmpo. Going into Thursday’s games, they are still ranked No. 1 in Defensive Rating (102.3) in the league, per NBA Advanced Stats. They’ll need their defense to step up against the potent scoring threats of Zach LaVine and DeMar DeRozan.

Stephen Curry is still in midst of one of the worst shooting slumps of his career. He is shooting 38-for-112 (33.9%) from the field in January. As a result, the Warriors’ offense that revolves around the greatest shooter of all time has suffered tremendously. In their previous five games, Golden State’s Offensive Rating is dead last (96.4) in the league.

This is a clear sign that shouldering the offensive burden the previous two seasons has been wearing Curry down. Opposing defenses have really thrown all they can at Curry to stop his 3-point shooting and force his teammates to step up. Without Thompson, Green and potentially others, I don’t think the Warriors have enough firepower to keep up with the Bulls.

Bulls Continue to Beat Expectations

The Bulls have continued to impress, boasting a 27-12 record. They’ve consistently outperformed market expectations, with a 23-16 (59%) record against the spread, per the Sports Data Query Language at Gimme the Dog. They have a triple threat on offense with LaVine, DeRozan and big man Nikola Vucevic. Vucevic has been struggling from the field this season (42.9%) but has been steadily improving and could be successful without Green disrupting the paint.

The Bulls are a little bit short-handed as well. Alex Caruso, Javonte Green and Derrick Jones Jr., are all listed out. Granted, they are not on the level of Thompson and Green, but all three are valuable role players for this deep Bulls team. The next men up are Alfonzo McKinnie and Troy Brown Jr.

The Bulls suffered a bad loss against the Nets on Wednesday night. They were in a great spot at home against a Nets team that has been on a brutal road trip back and forth across the country. However, the Nets could not miss and hit 17 3-pointers on 53.1% shooting from behind the arc.

They have really benefited from Coby White’s recent return. He is providing valuable minutes as the sixth man off the bench. He’s scored double-digit points in nine consecutive games with the five most recent coming off the bench. With the thin Warriors roster, expect White to succeed against their second unit.

Warriors-Bulls Pick

I’m siding with the Bulls as they have a rest and fatigue advantage against the Warriors. The Bulls have a great track record at home and should look to bounce back after their loss against the Nets.

The Warriors are on the second night of a back-to-back and playing their third game in four nights on the road. They’re battling some injuries, and this really seems like a spot where they punt the game to get their guys rested and healthy. After all, the Warriors are playing the long game here and not as concerned with the grind of every single regular season game.

If Payton II does not go, that is a huge blow for the Warriors. It would also not surprise me if Iguodala or Porter sat this game.

With all things considered, I think this spread should be higher in favor of the Bulls. I think the 3.5-point line presents nice value and will back them up to -4.5.

Pick: Bulls -3.5 (up to -4.5)