It's just one of 82 regular season home games. Win by 20 or lose by 50, they'll still be at least seven games over .500 and in the top four in the Eastern Conference. By season's end Wednesday night's game will be a blip on the radar of a long, up-and-down season they hope ends on a high note.
All those statements are true of the Bulls' matchup against the defending champion Golden State Warriors tonight at the United Center. But even some of their most veteran players, ever cautious not to get caught up in the moment, understand the importance of tonight's game.
"It’s the hottest team in the NBA, team with the best record, so yeah it does feel a little different because of the challenge they present," said veteran Pau Gasol. "We’re going to have to play our best basketball in order to be able to have an opportunity to win tonight."
Such is life for every opponent facing the Warriors, who at 38-4 are on pace to break the 1996 Bulls' 72-10 record and are the favorites to repeat as NBA champions. But beyond what reigning MVP Stephen Curry and the run-and-gun Warriors may accomplish by June, they're a matchup nightmare on both ends of the floor and tout not only the most lethal starting unit in the league, but also a bench that rarely skips a beat when called upon.
Led by Curry's league-leading 30.0 points per game - despite him averaging 33.9 minutes per game, 33rd most in the NBA thanks to the Warriors' copious blowouts - the Warriors rank first in the NBA in offensive efficiency (112.4), effective field goal percentage (56.0%), assists per game (28.7) and made 3-pointers per game (12.8). Stretch forward Draymond Green has become a legitimate MVP candidate, a five-category contributor who leads the NBA with eight triple-doubles, and Klay Thompson is averaging career-bests in field goal percentage and 3-pointers per game.
They showed signs of mortality last week, losing games to the Denver Nuggets and Detroit Pistons, the latter by 25 points. But they responded with arguably their most impressive win of the year - which says a lot considering they've already got 38 of them - handing LeBron James his worst home loss in a 43-point drubbing of the Cavaliers in Cleveland.
[LIVE STREAM: Bulls-Warriors pregame warm-ups at 4:30 p.m.]
"They present a very difficult matchup," Gasol added. "They move extremely well without the basketball, they have great shooting on the floor, they spread the floor really well with Steph being such a threat from anywhere on the floor he creates attention. He allows Draymond to make plays for himself and others and so they have great balance overall. They’re a tough matchup."
Working in the Bulls' favor, aside from playing at home where they're 16-7, is that they played the Warriors close in Oracle Arena back in November, falling 106-94 without point guard Derrick Rose. The Bulls led that game with less than 9 minutes to play and were within a single possession inside 2 minutes before the Warriors closed on a 12-3 run.
Also, the Bulls have played their best basketball against some of the league's best competition. Though they've got a handful of inexplicable losses, their impressive resume of wins includes victories over Oklahoma City (twice), Cleveland and San Antonio. Of the teams with the six best records in the NBA - the Bulls have the seventh at 24-16 - they've beaten time of them a total of six times, with the Warriors being their only miss.
[SHOP: Gear up, Bulls fans!]
The Bulls have lost four of six but enter Wednesday night games with some confidence, having knocked off the Pistons on the road Monday afternoon. A loss certainly wouldn't be a sign of a team falling off, while a win would signal once again that the Bulls have the talent to compete with any team in the NBA. In order to do that, the defense that has faltered the last few weeks will need to step up in a big way against a Warriors offense that can rattle off points in a hurry and won't slow up, like they did Monday night when they scored 132 points on the Cavaliers.
"We have to have pretty much a perfect game from beginning to end, top to bottom," Gasol admitted. It’s going to come down to us being the more aggressive team tonight and if we can do that and get into them defensively, make it uncomfortable for them, make them take tougher shots than usual, rebounding the ball, not giving them second opportunities, kind of taking control of the game, which is a tough test, we’ll have a better chance and a good chance to win.
"If we allow them to play their game, to be comfortable out there, to take any shot they want with the shooters they’ve got out there, they could tear us apart."