Programming note: Bulls-Warriors coverage starts tonight at 7:00 p.m. with Warriors Pregame Live on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area, and streaming live right here.
OAKLAND – The Warriors on Tuesday night will seek to make another statement about their homecourt advantage, this time against the only NBA team that has been appreciably better on the road than in its own building.
The Warriors (36-6) own the best record in the league and have won 19 in a row at home but face a unique challenge with the Chicago Bulls, who are 29-17 overall but an impressive 16-6 – including nine of their last 12 – away from United Center.
And this game initiates a six-game road trip for the Bulls.
"We've got to put together 48 minutes of physical, tough, smart basketball," Stephen Curry said after shootaround Tuesday morning. "They grind out games, they pound it inside and put a lot of pressure on you. You know defensively they're going to be pretty good, so you can't turn the ball over."
The Warriors also will be trying to extend to 15 their unbeaten streak against Eastern Conference foes.
Warriors by 10.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH
Andrew Bogut vs. Pau Gasol -- After showing signs of decline as a Laker last season, Gasol is reviving his career in Chicago, where he leads the NBA in double-doubles with 27. It's quite the challenge for Bogut, a solid defender who also will have to provide enough offense to keep Gasol busy.
Stephen Curry vs. Derrick Rose -- It's a battle between top-tier point guards, one a former MVP and the other a leading candidate for the award this season. There is a distinct contrast in styles, with Curry relying on finesse and long-range shooting, while Rose resorts to strength and explosion.
Klay Thompson vs. Jimmy Butler -- Arguably the best all-around shooting guards in the NBA, with Thompson the much better 3-point shooter and Butler having the edge in athleticism. Both play excellent individual and team defense. Both players are capable of tilting the court in his team's direction.
KEYS TO VICTORY
1) Protect the paint -- No team is more aggressive in attacking the basket, which explains Miami's Hassan Whiteside blocking 12 of their shots on Sunday. Working inside is the way of the Bulls, who shoot fewer treys than all but two contenders (Grizzlies and Wizards).
2) Sprint out of the gate -- Taking command early would put the Bulls in the unenviable position of playing catch-up in the first of a six-game road trip. They're not built to come from behind.
3) Big men avoiding foul trouble -- The Bulls are a long team when Joakim Noah and Gasol are on the floor. As good as the Warriors are when they go small, it's a risky strategy against Chicago's size and relentless energy.
Warriors: C Festus Ezeli (sprained left ankle) is listed as out.
Bulls: G Jimmy Butler (illness) was ruled out Tuesday evening. C Joakim Noah (sprained right ankle) is listed as questionable. F Mike Dunleavy (sprained right ankle) on Tuesday morning was declared out.
The Warriors posted a 112-102 on Dec. 6 in Chicago and are seeking their first two-game sweep of the Bulls since 2000-01. The Warriors entered this season having lost seven of the last 11 meetings.