Spurs-Bulls Preview

San Antonio Spurs Status Check:
Record: 46-9
Division: 7-3
Conference: 29-5
Road Record: 21-7
Last 10 Games: 8-2
Streak: Won 2
Last game: Won 102-85 at New Jersey
PPG: 103.5 (6th)
Opponents PPG: 96.1 (10th)
Offensive Rating: 111.3 (3rd)
Defensive Rating: 103.3 (7th)
Pace: 92.5 (13th)
Effective Field Goal Percentage: .523 (4th)
Turnover Percentage: . 131 (10th)
Defensive Rebound Percentage: .749 (8th)
Offensive Rebound Percentage: .258 (17th)
Free Throws Per Field Goal Attempt: .234 (9th)
Opp. eFG%: .483 (8th)
Opp. TO%: .130 (18th)
Opp. FT/FGA: .181 (2nd)
Leading scorer: Manu Ginobili (17.9)

Stats from Basketball-Reference.

Spurs Injury Report:
Tiago Splitter: strained left hamstring (out indefinitely)
Antonio McDyess: thumb (day-to-day)

Overview:
Thursday night will be the Spurs sixth game in ten days, all on the road. It is part of their annual Rodeo Road Trip, much like Chicago’s on Circus Road trip. But unlike the Bulls, San Antonio has fared well on their extended voyage. They are 6-2 on the trip this year and are 50-22 on the trip since 2002-2003.

You’re probably saying: “But that was then, this is now; they’re not the same team as they used to be.” And you’re absolutely right. Their identity has changed. It’s no longer Tim Duncan leading them. He actually plays only 28.7 minutes per game. The rest of the team, including the bench, has taken on more of the scoring load. And this is something the Spurs have been doing for a long time under Coach Gregg Popovich: They play a full team game.

The same can be said for the Bulls, especially in their last game. Derrick Rose was a little off and the rest of the team stepped up. That’s what it will take to beat the league’s best team. (Although, hopefully, Rose will turn in one of his better games.)

The Spurs have the best away record in the league (along with the best home record). But it’s the last game of a long road trip, and the last game before the All-Star break. It’s hard for teams to get up for these games, especially when a break is in sight. Add to that the fact that their last six games weren’t against the toughest opponents (Kings, Pistons, Raptors, Sixers, Wizards and Nets) and maybe the Spurs won’t realize their walking into a buzz saw.

But with this Bulls team, there isn’t a need to hope a team comes unprepared.

They’ve played great all season, especially at home. They boast the league’s second-best home record at 24-4 (the Spurs are numero uno at 25-2). And the Bulls could have — and probably should have – won the last contest between the two teams, which took place during the Circus Trip. They outplayed the Spurs for three quarters in that game. It’s just that the quarter they lost, they really lost and ended up doing a full-frontal faceplant. They scored only 12 points in the third quarter and were outscored by 25 points (37-12).

But that was way back when the Bulls didn’t have their second leading scorer Carlos Boozer. And the starter in his place, Taj Gibson, scored 0 points on 0-for-7 shooting. They did have Joakim Noah, but he didn’t do much to stop Duncan, who scored 16 points, grabbed 18 rebounds and dished out 5 assists.

Boozer could be huge in this game. Check out the splits: With the Jazz last season, Boozington averaged 25.8 PPG and 11.3 RPG against the Spurs.

So the question is: Which team will want it more?

Will Deng and Boozer be up for the game, their last chance to show why they should have been All-Stars? Or will they be looking forward to their weekend off, and ahead to the second half of the season? Who knows, but whenever two of the top teams in the NBA get together, it’s always entertaining.

TrueHoop Network:
48 Minutes of Hell: “The last time these two teams met was on November 17, when the Spurs emerged with a 103-94 victory. Derrick Rose scored 33 points on 27 field goal attempts, but the Spurs balanced attack prevailed. Parker scored 21 on 14 field goal attempts; Ginobili needed only 12 shots to score 20 and Duncan managed 16 points (although he did require 19 attempts) to go with 18 rebounds and 2 blocks. George Hill also contributed 14 points on 8 shots and Matt Bonner scored 8 on 5 attempts (with a laughable +/- of 29 in 22 minutes).

“The Spurs found success defensively when they were able to get the ball out of Rose’s hands. Rose had only 1 easy assist (finished at the rim) to go with 3 passing turnovers and his teammates struggled to convert their shooting opportunities despite the constant attention Rose commanded. Teammates made only 24 of 65 attempts (37%), including 4 of 13 threes (31%). The Spurs, meanwhile, made 48.3% of their shots, got to the line 22 times and grabbed 5% more offensive rebounds than the Bulls.”

About the Author:
Braedan Ritter was born and raised in Pennsylvania but was swayed by gifts from his aunt to follow the Chicago sports teams. It didn’t hurt that the Bulls had a guy named Michael Jordan playing for them, and the Sixers had…Derrick Coleman. Braedan has stuck with Chicago through thick and thin, and really thin (see: Chicago Cubs). And speaking of Coleman, Braedan is currently a student at Syracuse University.

5 Responses to Spurs-Bulls Preview

  1. bob.edwards47@yahoo.com'
    BoppinBob February 17, 2011 at 6:21 pm #

    The last time the Bulls and Spurs played was the tenth game of the season for the Bulls, the defensive system was still new to the Bulls and was still developing. Boozer was not there, and most of the team was still new to each other. While Noah will be out the rest of the team has 53 games under their belts. At this point the Bulls are substantially better than they were when they last played the Spurs. I do not see either team letting down for this game. It should be a very good game, one I do not want to miss.

  2. Luvabull February 17, 2011 at 7:22 pm #

    You can never count on a letdown from a Popovich led team. The Spurs may have a bad game now and then, but it’s not due to a letdown.
    If the Bulls need motivation beyond the fact that the Spurs are the best team in the league right now. Barring injuries, they have to be considered the favorites to be the Western conference champions. The Spurs are the only top (contending) team the Bulls have not beaten this season and this is their only chance.
    A couple of stats to make a Bulls fan go “Wow”:

    The Bulls have the 5th best record at All-Star break and have a very good shot at winning 40 games by the end of February.

    With the exception of the Spurs (best team in the league) and the Knicks, the Bulls have beaten every other team in the league already.

    And this with Noah missing nearly 30 games and Boozer missing more than 15.

    I predict a Bulls win on the basis of “Revenge of Bogans” factor. ;)

  3. handkuft@yahoo.com'
    GotNext February 18, 2011 at 3:44 am #

    Good call luvabull, what a great game. The bulls had control through out the match and you never felt like we were going to lose. D nice said it was a statement game and drops a career high lol. I’m a huge rose fan but up until this game I wouldn’t say he’s the league mvp, but this kid keeps excelling and shattering all the expectations and goals he set up even for himself. If he and the bulls keep this up and rose doesn’t get MVP, it better be Dwight, no one else deserves it more at this time.

  4. Inception February 18, 2011 at 1:50 pm #

    Best home win of the season.

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    [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Chicago Bulls Buzz, Brian LaHue. Brian LaHue said: Spurs-Bulls Preview » By The Horns: The same can be said for the Bulls, especially in their last game. Derrick R… http://bit.ly/hy9SlB [...]

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