Warriors begin life without Durant in Chicago (Mar 02, 2017)
CHICAGO – Sporting a league-best 50-10 record, the Golden State Warriors haven’t been forced to deal with much adversity as they chase after a third straight appearance in the NBA Finals.
But with 22 games remaining in the regular season, the Warriors are dealing with their first bump in the road heading into Thursday night’s game against the Bulls in Chicago.
Forward Kevin Durant is expected to miss four to six weeks with a sprained MCL and tibial bone bruise he suffered in Tuesday night’s 112-108 loss to the Washington Wizards. On Wednesday, Warriors general manager Bob Myers told reporters in Chicago that Durant’s injury — initially believed to be possibly season-ending wasn’t as bad as initially feared.
“The good news is he’s in a position where we think he will fully recover long term,” Myers said, according to the East Bay Times. “In the short term, we’ll have to see how his body does. There was a moment where there was a potential for a different diagnosis, but that didn’t last too long.”
According to reports, Durant — who is in his first year with the Warriors — could return late in the regular season and in time for the playoffs. While Golden State already had a talented core of players in place, guard Stephen Curry said while the injury won’t take Durant away for the Warriors’ championship chase, it will take some getting used to not having him in the lineup.
“We have a different roster and we haven’t been without (Durant) but one game this year,” Curry told reporters in Washington after the loss. “So it will be an adjustment.”
The Bulls, meanwhile, will face the Warriors healthier than they were than when they faced Golden State last month. Chicago (30-30) dropped a 123-92 road loss while playing without Jimmy Butler, who was out with a heel bruise and Dwyane Wade, who missed the game due to illness.
Chicago saw its four-game winning streak snapped on Tuesday night in a 125-107 loss to the Denver Nuggets in which the Bulls struggled defensively, especially in guarding against the 3-point shot.
The Nuggets connected on 13 3-pointers and turned a one-point third-quarter deficit into the blowout win. The Bulls allowed a season-high 123 points.
“We have to run them off the 3-point line,” guard Rajon Rondo told reporters Tuesday night. “We knew what the scouting report was and we didn’t stick to the plan.”
As hot as the Nuggets were, Butler experienced his share of shooting woes. Chicago’s leading scorer failed to reach double figures for just the fourth time this season and finished the night 3 for 13.
Wade and Rondo each scored 19 points for Chicago in the loss, but Butler knows his shooting has to improve, especially given the challenge the Bulls will face on Thursday night against the Warriors — even without Durant in the lineup.
“I haven’t been in a rhythm in a while now,” Butler said after the game, according to the Chicago Tribune. “It’s OK though. I’ll find a rhythm. I’ll start making some shots.”