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Game Preview: San Antonio Spurs at Chicago Bulls

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Spurs look to stay hot and visit a dangerous, but ailing Bulls team who is 5-1 at home this season.

David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

San Antonio Spurs vs Chicago Bulls

United Center
Date: 11/30/15, Time: 7:00 PM Spurs Time

If you haven't been watching a ton of basketball to this point in the season or paying close attention you might think that Golden State is running away with the league and there is no chance that anybody but LeBron James and a healthy Cavaliers team who can stop them. You might have also heard that LaMarcus Aldridge is struggling to fit in with the Spurs and despite "winning the offseason" it hasn't really been a great fit.

Hyperbole abounds early in seasons (heck, it abounds all the time) and it's easy to get caught up in all of the talking points or story lines that ESPN and other big sports media are dolling out. The Warriors are a tremendously talented team that are the defending champs. Of course they're good. But so are the Spurs. Think about all any Spurs fans could talk about in the off-season was how good the offense was going to be when it all clicked this year. Yes, it's true, it hasn't fully clicked. That being said, who would have thought the defense would be atop the NBA nearing the first quarter mark of the season? If we're being honest it probably wouldn't have been any of us.  I don't think the team even thought it would go like this.

"Usually we are a team that builds defensively, slowly," Manu Ginobili said. "This year we started very well, very aggressively. The addition of LaMarcus gives us more size. He has quick feet to switch, to get in a better position quicker."

So despite a "struggling" offense (if you can call a top 10 offense struggling), the Spurs are 14-3, only 3 games back in the loss column to the Warriors.  How good could things get?  I'll let your imagination take you down that road.  Suffice to say, the Spurs should be pretty stoked to be sitting at the 2nd best record in the NBA while still knowing there is a lot of room for improvement.

After dispatching of the Hawks, the Spurs visit Chi-town for a matchup with the 9-5 Bulls.  Chicago seem like a team that is very close to really being a strong contender. They brought in Fred Hoiberg from the college ranks in the off-season to help turn the offense around. It's been a bit of a struggle to date. The Bulls are talented, but flawed. The flaws seem to be mostly of the injury variety.  Derrick Rose is struggling mightily after coming back from another serious injury last year.  Mike Dunleavy is out and has really caused an issue with the wing depth for the Bulls and now it looks like Jimmy Butler may have a lingering issue that is causing him trouble.

The Bulls are still a top 5 team when it comes to defensive ratings, but they are a paltry 28th in offensive rating. There is still hope the Chicago offense will eventually catch up, or at least get closer to, the defensive levels. If that happens you should expect the Bulls to make quite a bit of noise in the Eastern Conference. The Spurs however are a top ten team in both offensive and defensive rating.  On paper the Spurs should be able to handle Chicago, but the Bulls shouldn't be taken lightly.  They seem to give a ton of respect to the Spurs.

"I do enjoy playing against one of the best teams, I think, in the history of the game," Gasol said after Sunday's practice. "They've been incredible for the last 15, 16, 17 years now since they won that first championship. So really impressive what they've done. I think everybody is trying to follow up on what they've accomplished. And building that culture, longevity. So yeah, I still do get very much motivated against a team that's always at the top of the league."

Matchup to watch: Normally this would be a Jimmy Butler and Kawhi Leonard match up we'd be drooling over, but with Butler apparently nursing some aliments I want to focus on the benches. One of the big moves the new coach, Hoiberg, made was moving Jokim Noah to a bench role. The Bulls also have Tony Snell, who's been hitting over 41% of his 3-pointers and Taj Gibson, who's long been a Sixth Man of the Year candidate.  It will be interesting to see how the Spurs handle all of that size with their smaller bench players, David West and Boris Diaw.  I think the Manu Ginobili and Patty Mills combo will be too much for the Bulls to handle.

San Antonio Spurs (14-3)

Chicago Bulls (9-5)

November 30, 2015

United Center, Chicago, IL

7:30 PM CST



Tony Parker


Derrick Rose

Danny Green


Jimmy Butler

Kawhi Leonard


Doug McDermott

LaMarcus Aldridge


Nikola Mirotic

Tim Duncan


Pau Gasol

Game prediction: Spurs by 6.

For the Bulls fans' perspective, visit Blog a Bull

As always, Tony must dominate Fisher.