Tonight is the night. The night I've been looking forward to this season, more than any other. It's not Lebron's return to Cleveland. It's not the first Heat and Lakers matchup. It's not the first Lakers and Celtics matchup (both Laker losses, in case anyone forgot). Tonight is the night that I get to see our beloved Spurs in action, in person - nosebleed section and all. They are coming to the Windy City.
Our Spurs currently sit atop the NBA with 46 wins and 9 losses. The annual Rodeo Road Trip ends tonight. If all goes as planned, we'll finish with 7 wins and 2 losses. We began with a 13 point loss in Portland, pulled off 4 straight wins over the Lakers, Kings, Pistons and Raptors, dropped one to Philly on Friday, and came back to scorch Washington and New Jersey. Standings wise, and talent wise, (and with the exception of the beat down
s we got from Portland and Philly), after L.A., I see this Chicago team as easily the toughest we'll face on this trip. We beat these guys 103-94 in SA back on November 10th, and I think we can do it again. I also think tonight is a statement game. We're on national tv, and are still not taken very seriously as a threat to come out of the West, just as Chicago is not taken seriously as an Eastern threat. They currently sit 2 1/2 games behind an injury plagued Celtics team and a still messhing together Miami Heat. The Bulls are currently 37 and 16, have lost only 4 times at home all year, and oh yea, is having an MVP calibure season. He has a question for you...
[Really...could we make a Bulls reference without this from LatinD?]
And some listening...
Frank Sinatra - My kind of town (via Filmfanatiker081)
San Antonio Spurs @ Chicago Bulls
Where: United Center
By the Numbers
PG: Parker needs to dominate Fisher. This will be a statement matchup for Tony, not that he really has anything to prove to anyone. He's only started on 3 Championship teams, but who's counting. Rose has the youth, the moves, the quickness and the overall skill to compete with Tony's old washed up behind. Seriously though, Tony gets dogged a lot, and is usually left out of the 'Best pg in the league' argument, but I'd go into battle with him at the helm any day of the week and I'll like my chances. You can't teach guts, and both guys have them.
SG: Manu and Bogans. Lot's of familiar Western Conference faces on this opponent. Sorry Keith.
SF: Deng is having a very good season. I don't remember him shooting 45% in years past. He's up to 17.5 ppg. RJ needs to get off to a hot start.
PF: After coming back from his injury that kept him out for a big chunk of the season, Boozer has been on a tear. 19 ppg and 10 ppg, in just under 33 mins. Tim is the GOAT. While Booze is no slouch, Timmy's smarts give him the edge.
C: This is a crucial one for us. We're gonna need the good 20 and 15 Blair to show up tonight - not the 2 fouls in the first 4 minutes Blair. Our old buddy KT has been excellent for the Bulls this year. At age 38, he's chipping in 24 mins, just under 5 pts and 6 rebs per. I always liked him as a Spur because of basic, Spur-like tendencies. He's an adequate defender, he has a decent jumper, he plays smart ball and does not make too many mistakes. A bargain at 1.8 mil this year.
Very close. The Utah Jazz have had a rough season. Their coach of 23 seasons
is forced out retires and half their line up is high-jacked by the Bulls in the off season! I think Korver's shooting may be tough to match, but our guys have a habit of getting hot from the three point line, as well.
Both of these guys preach defense. Tom Thibodeau has been an excellent hire for the Bulls. But Pop gets the edge, because of more Championship experience and because he's, well, Pop.
This Chicago crowd is tough, but Pop prefers the road. The Bulls defense is one of the best in the league. They are tops in defensive efficiency rating, 2nd in opponents fg% at a shellacking 42.7%, and 9th in opponents ft%. The good news is that they only shoot 73% from the line. By golly, we've got 'em beat there, and I think that's going to be very important tonight.
The Rodeo Trip is almost over!
Spurs close out the Trip in style.
Key(s) to the Game
Key 1 - We've really gotta contain Rose. Watch Boozer down low. Timmy knows his game by now. I think the rest will work itself out.
Key 2 - Free throws. Make them.
Key 3 - Control the boards. Nothing new here. If all goes as planned, Joakim Noah will not play tonight.
Spurs Planet - Our old friend Wayne Vore is back.
Blog a Bull - One of the best SBN basketball blogs out there, and I believe one of the first!
By The Horns - ESPN TrueHoop Affiliate
WOAI 1200AM; Audio League Pass[streaming]
As always, NBA league pass is recommended for those who are willing to pony up the cash. Almost every Spurs game will be broadcast there, which is especially helpful for those of us who aren't in the San Antonio area.
Please don't post links to illegal game feeds in the game thread. Links to illegal feeds are not permitted on SBNation, but you can probably find them out there on the internets if you're resourceful and desperate. You can also shoot an email to firstname.lastname@example.org(IMPORTANT: Please include your PtR username in the email for reference) for further assistance.