NBA Gameday: Warriors will have their hands full with Jimmy Butler

NBA Gameday: Warriors will have their hands full with Jimmy Butler

Life without Kevin Durant, for at least the next few weeks, begins Thursday in Chicago, where the Warriors face the Bulls at United Center.

And, for a night, the Warriors could be without coach Steve Kerr, who wasn’t feeling well Thursday morning and did not attend shootaround. Though Kerr is optimistic about being at the game, according to a Warriors official, should he not make it the team will turn to assistant coach Mike Brown.

Making his Warriors debut will be small forward Matt Barnes, a last-minute addition signed after Durant sustained a knee injury in a loss to the Wizards Tuesday night in Washington.

[RELATED: Ahead of first game, Matt Barnes delivers message to Warriors fans]

The Warriors (50-10) will attempt to extend to 147 their NBA-record streak of games without consecutive losses.

The Bulls (30-30) have won four of five but still are coming together in the wake of a trade last week that sent away Taj Gibson and Doug McDermott while adding Joffrey Lauvergne, Anthony Morrow and Cameron Payne.


Warriors by 7.5


Warriors-Jimmy Butler: No matter who starts at small forward, the Warriors will have their hands full with Butler. It’s conceivable they will do some cross matching, using guard Klay Thompson as well as small forwards Andre Iguodala and Matt Barnes to defend Butler. At 6-foot-7, 238 pounds, he’s too big for rookie Pat McCaw. Containing Chicago’s leading scorer with a compromised lineup will be difficult.


Warriors: F Kevin Durant (L knee sprain, tibial bone bruise) is listed as out. C Damian Jones is on assignment with Santa Cruz of the NBA Development League.

Bulls: G Michael Carter-Williams (L patellar tendinitis) and F Paul Zipser (L ankle tendinitis) are listed as questionable.


Warriors: 7-3. Bulls: 5-5.


The Warriors have won the last three meetings and five of the last seven. They will be trying to sweep the Bulls in back-to-back seasons for the second time ever and the first time since 1999-00 and 2000-01.


CHASING KOBE AND CHAUNCEY: Coming off two subpar games in a row, Stephen Curry needs two 3-pointers to surpass Kobe Bryant on the all-time list. Curry needs five threes to move past Chauncey Billups and into 10th place on the list.

PROTECT THE PAINT: Ranking last in 3-point shots and makes, the Bulls are built to attack the paint with their variety of slashers, led by Dwyane Wade and Butler. Rim protection always is a priority against Chicago, and Durant’s absence adds urgency. The Warriors will want to close off the driving lanes and force jumpers.

THE RACE TO 100: The Warriors average an NBA-best 118.1 points per game and are 50-8 when they score at least 100, which they have done 36 games in a row. The Bulls are 12-26 when they allow at least 100 points. The math makes a statement.

What if they don't win the title? Joe Lacob says Warriors 'looking at different options'


What if they don't win the title? Joe Lacob says Warriors 'looking at different options'

The Warriors were the No. 1 overall seed in the playoffs in 2015, 2016 and 2017.

That is probably going to change this season, as they trail the Rockets by three games (although it's really four because Houston has the tiebreaker) with 12 games to play (and only lead the Raptors by one game).

What does owner Joe Lacob think about his team right now?

“We’ve had our best team we’ve ever had this year,” Lacob recently told Mark Medina of the Bay Area News Group (read the full story here). “We have to go prove it on the court, but we have enough to win it.

"It doesn’t mean we will, but we are certainly set up to have the opportunity potentially to do that. That’s about all you can ask.”

Things can change in an instant and Lacob understands that.

That's why he's constantly discussing scenarios with Warriors GM Bob Myers and the rest of Golden State's decision-makers.

“We’ll build around that core until we decide maybe we shouldn’t," Lacob told BANG. "But right now it feels pretty good. These guys are all performing at a great level. We love them as part of our organization.

"I don’t really see doing anything major. But you never really know. We have to evaluate when the season is over. It’s very hard when you’re in the middle of it all to see it objectively.”

What happens if the Warriors don't win the championship this year?

We will leave you with this quote Lacob gave BANG.

“Maybe we will emphasize continuity. Or maybe we will make a big move. We’re looking at different options, given different things playing out in different ways.

"I think you should always be doing that.”

Drew Shiller is the co-host of Warriors Outsiders. Follow him on Twitter @DrewShiller

Pat McCaw will return vs Spurs; Draymond Green vs LaMarcus Aldridge


Pat McCaw will return vs Spurs; Draymond Green vs LaMarcus Aldridge

In 43 seasons battling the Spurs, only once have the Warriors swept a season series, a feat they will accomplish again with a victory Monday night in San Antonio.

Winning at AT&T Center will be a tough task for the depleted Warriors (53-17), who for the third consecutive game will take the floor with three of their four All-Stars -- Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson -- unavailable. Guard Pat McCaw, however, will be available for the first time in five weeks.

After the Spurs (40-30) lost nine of 11 games over a 30-day span and seemed to be fading from the playoff race, they’ve posted three straight wins and are very much in the race, despite the continued absence of star forward Kawhi Leonard.


Spurs by 7


Draymond Green & Co. vs. LaMarcus Aldridge: Aldridge is a load for any defender and has carried the Spurs this season. Expect the Warriors to stick to their routine when facing a single pivotal player and send a variety of defenders. Green is sure to be one of them. Others likely to take turns include Zaza Pachulia, JaVale McGee, David West and maybe even Kevon Looney. The Warriors will consider it success if they can keep Aldridge under 30 points.


Warriors: F Omri Casspi (R ankle tweak), G Stephen Curry (R ankle tweak), F Kevin Durant (R rib fracture) and G Klay Thompson (R thumb fracture) and listed as out.

Spurs: F Kawhi Leonard (return from injury management) is listed as out.


Warriors: 7-3. Spurs: 5-5.


James Capers (crew chief), Bennie Adams, Karl Lane


The Warriors won the first three of four meetings this season: 112-92 on Nov. 2 in San Antonio, 122-105 on Feb. 10 in Oakland and 110-107 on March 8 at Oakland. They were 1-2 against San Antonio last season and are 9-7 against the Spurs in the Steve Kerr era.


COOK’S ROLL: Two-way PG Quinn Cook was terrific in the last two games, scoring a combined 53 points on 21-of-30 shooting. That was against lottery teams. The Spurs traditionally make life tough for guards and will pose a much bigger challenge. If Cook stays hot under this pressure, the Warriors will be beyond ecstatic.

MCCAW RETURNS: The return of McCaw, out since Feb. 12 with a L wrist fracture, gives the Warriors a fourth guard and some welcome flexibility. Cook played 80 minutes in the recent back-to-back set, and Nick Young played 78. McCaw will be on a minutes restriction (less than 20) but can perform on or off the ball.

THE BENCH GAME: Spurs coach Gregg Popovich has virtually trademarked liberal usage of reserves; only San Antonio has had eight players score in double figures in three different games this season, and 13 different Spurs average at least 10 ppg. Their depth will be a problem for these very thin Warriors.