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GIF Breakdown: Spurs vs. Chicago Bulls

The Spurs started out the game on fire and built a lead against the Bulls that grew to 32 points and was enough to ensure that no started played 30 minutes. It was Tony early, Manu in the middle and lots of bench in the second half. There are a lot of fun plays to enjoy in this edition of GIF Breakdown.

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You probably already know about how hot Tony Parker was early, and we've seen him use spin moves before, but the way he sets this one up by pretending to begin a pick and roll with Tim Duncan, and waiting until Kirk Hinrich jumps out to the three point line before beginning his drive ... it's a thing of beauty. Also, the spin is fun to watch as always, and this one is in between two pretty good defensive players. Didn't matter Tuesday night.


This is exactly what J. Gomez and I have been hoping for ever since Kawhi Leonard's sophomore year: the 1/3 pick and roll between Parker and The Sleeve. There are just so many possibilities with this and I'm overjoyed to see it in use against a stout defense like Chicago's. Kawhi comes over to set a screen on Hinrich to free Parker and brings Jimmy Butler with him. As soon as Hinrich sees that he's about to have to guard Kawhi, he knows he's in trouble and immediately tries to draw a foul by selling the contact with  Kawhi. (This is one of those plays where the GIF doesn't do the action justice. I re-watched this play at least 10 times to be sure that Leonard doesn't hip-check Kirk here. He didn't.) The rest is just Kawhi showing off his elite, and ever-expanding, mid-range game with a gorgeous swish of this 12-footer.


Here we have Leonard taking Butler one-on-one. And while it's too far removed from the paint to really call it a post-up, these are all Kawhi's post moves. He turns, faces while keeping the ball high, takes a single dribble toward the baseline and elevates as Butler stays in his face the whole time. Again, didn't matter. (Bonus GIF content: check out Chicago's bench while the play goes on. It looks like they're all trying to control Butler with body english.)


Behold: an excellent example of Tony's floor management. He's constantly probing the defense for weakness and using every possible advantage available to him. When he goes baseline and realizes that there's nothing there, he swings the ball to Duncan to re-set. Then, working his way around Duncan, he sees an opening on the other side of the court, sprints to it, spins around as soon as he gets there to shoot a fall-away jumper that no Bull can adequately contest. As much as Tony's athletic brilliance is fun to watch, I'm really liking the plays that he wins with his vision and BBIQ.


The Spurs are really improving in transition, and this play shows them at their absolute best. The ball comes quickly to Manu Ginobili while Chicago is still getting back and Patty Mills is streaking down the center of the floor. Manu finds him with a perfectly slotted pass that's just outside the reach of D.J. Augustin. As the Bulls react to Mills drive into the paint, Patty spots a wide-open Marco Belinelli and gets him the ball for yet another spicy corner three.


Same players. Different order. Different configuration. Same result. Manu begins his drive but pulls up as he slides a one-handed bounce pass to a cutting Belinelli who draws the defense and thinks about trying a layup before deciding against it and hitting Mills in the corner for another three-ball.


Manu leads the break this time, and his presence in transition seems to draw the eyes of every Bulls defender, which allows him to get one of his patented bounce passes to Aron Baynes as he runs full speed into the paint for a dunk. But just a minute, former Spurs Nazr Mohammed challenges and Baynes is forced to turn his back to the lane and finish with a back-handed righty layup. This score made it a 30 point lead. And your GIFfer called it a night.


BONUS GIF: This is just the kind of night it was for the Bulls.


Extra credit for anyone who noticed that all of these GIFS are from the first half. With a 28 point lead after two quarters, there wasn't much meaningful basketball left in the evening. But if you DVR'd this game, do yourself a favor and watch the 3rd quarter for a couple of completely GIF-able plays that would've made the cut if they'd come when the game was even remotely in doubt.