San Antonio Spurs @ Chicago BullsUnited Center, Chicago, IL
February 11, 2013, 7:00 PM Spurs Time
TV: FSSW - RADIO: 1200 AM WOAI
The San Antonio Spurs face the Chicago Bulls on the fourth game of their nine-game Rodeo Road Trip. Normally, this would be a very interesting game, but injuries have meant 3 players important to both clubs aren't making an appearance on the court. As you may probably have learned, Derrick Rose is out until the All-Star break at the least due to a knee injury suffered last postseason, whilst Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili are sitting out with
old man injuries a sprained knee and ankle and a tight hamstring, respectively. With two of the Big 3 out of commission, the third, youngest member, Tony Parker, has stepped up to the occasion. In the past 8 Spurs games, Parker has posted 26.3 PPG on 61% shooting, 9.5 APG, 3.5 RPG, and only 2.6 TOPG (h/t to forrestgump52).
Now on to the opponent of the day: The Chicago Bulls made a key free agent signing in the summer of 2010, the Summer of LeBron James' infamous Decision. And no, I am not referring to Carlos Boozer And His 15 Million A Year Contract; I am referring to the man they call Thibs, Tom Thibodeau. Thibodeau was the defensive architect for many a team, most famously the 2008 NBA Champion Boston Celtics. For the past 3 seasons, the Bulls have been in the top of the league in defensive rating, placing 1st in 2011, 2nd in 2012, and 4th in 2013. They do this by flooding the strong side of the floor, forcing teams to pass the ball until they either throw up a bad shot or turn the ball over (or both as is in the case of a shot clock violation). Nevertheless, if they have a weakness, it is the fact that their style of play leads to many a transition basket, they rank 13th in allowing fast break points and are a shocking 23rd in opponent fast break efficiency. Their offense, predicated on securing offensive rebounds (3rd in the league) and getting to the line (10th in FT/FGA) is nevertheless negated by their poor shooting overall (27th in eFG%), which is understandable, since without Rose they lack a player who can collapse defenses.
So that said, the keys for the Spurs to win on a SEGABABA (where they thankfully are not as gassed, thanks to a 25 point beatdown of the Nets) would be the following: Get to a strong start, run often, and secure the defensive rebound. The Spurs have spotted a 1st quarter deficit in their previous 3 games on the Rodeo Road Trip, and while they caught up eventually against Minnesota and Brooklyn, Detroit would answer a Spurs basket with a basket of their own. As I've noted, the Bulls are particularly vulnerable to fastbreak opportunities, as their defense has no time to set up and they lack the raw athletic talent to prevent fastbreaks in Rose's absence. Finally, the Spurs as a great defensive rebounding team go against great offensive rebounding team in the Bulls, so the bigs and wings should make a concerted effort to keep Chicago from getting their misses back.
Bulls perspective can be found here: Blog a Bull
Game Prediction: The Spurs have Tony Parker and the Bulls don't have their superstar PG. Spurs by 4.
As always Tony must dominate Fisher, and 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.
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