San Antonio Spurs Status Check:
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)
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.
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.