In the big book of basketball records, tying an NBA-best 14-0 road winning streak to start a season is definitely a B-side, but it would still be a pleasant undertaking in what was meant to be an off year for the recession-proof San Antonio Spurs.
Another team that’s surprised people is the new-look Bulls, who bid farewell to Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah in the offseason while assembling one of the strangest 1-2-3 combinations possible.
There were obvious questions about how incumbent star Jimmy Butler would mesh with Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo, but Fred Hoiberg has mostly made it work so far. The wings keep the ball moving from side to side, work off the screens from big men Taj Gibson and Robin Lopez, and have all been surprisingly adequate from three-point range thus far.
The Bulls are on their second three-game losing streak of the season, though, which should give them a sense of urgency heading into tonight. Their combination of wing scoring and physicality in the frontcourt will give them a puncher’s chance against most opponents. I'd call this a trap game, but I don't really know what qualifies for one with this Spurs team.
San Antonio Spurs (18-4) at Chicago Bulls (11-10)
Dec. 8, 2016 | 8:30 CST
Watch: TNT Listen: 1200 AM WOAI
Spurs injuries: Tony Parker (knee)
Bulls injuries: Michael Carter-Williams (wrist), Doug McDermott (concussion): UPDATE- McDermott will play
Call it the Robin Lopez effect: the Bulls are second in rebound differential (+5.4) and first in the league in offensive rebounds per game (13.7). The Spurs have been fairly mediocre at crashing the boards, which could be a problem tonight, since ‘giving guys like Wade and Butler enough second chances’ doesn’t spell ‘success’ (for one, it’s too many letters).
Protecting the lane
Jimmy Butler is, in theory, the best shooter in Chicago’s starting lineup, but he, Wade and Rondo are all somehow around 35% from deep on the year right now. Still, I don’t see the Spurs going over too many screens tonight, as they look to keep things simple and force those guys to do what they’ve traditionally done worst.
Wade and Butler versus Green and Kawhi
Two of the league’s best two-way wings are both coming off 30+ point games. Wade gets to chase Danny around the perimeter. The wing matchups should be fun to watch.
Vegas line: Spurs by 3.
Game prediction: Spurs by 7.
For the Bulls fans' perspective, visit Blog A Bull.
As always Tony must dominate Fisher.
PtR's Gamethread will be up this evening for those who want to chat through the game. You can also follow along with the action through PtR's Twitter feed.