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Game Preview: Chicago Bulls vs. San Antonio Spurs

The Bulls players said interim head coach Jim Boylen wasn’t Pop, but they’re about to come face to face with the man himself and his squad, who are on a roll at home.

NBA: San Antonio Spurs at Chicago Bulls Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

It looks like a homecoming is just what the Spurs needed! After a rough November that saw a collection of new teammates on the road for the majority of that month (with a 5-10 record that reflects it), the Spurs are in the midst of a 6 game home-stand and a 4 game winning streak, the latest coming against a Clippers team that has spent some time at the top of the Western Conference standings this season.

San Antonio Spurs (15-14) vs. Chicago Bulls (6-23)

December 15, 2018 | 7:30 PM CT

Listen: WOAI | Watch: KENS5

Spurs injuries: Dejounte Murray (knee), Pau Gasol (foot)

Bulls injuries: Zach LaVine, doubtful (ankle), Chandler Hutchinson, game-time decision (illness)

Previous Matchup: November 26th, Spurs 108, Bulls 107

The Bulls

Chicago has been the equivalent of a dumpster fire this season. The Bulls come into this match-up having lost 10 of their last 11 games. They fired head coach Fred Hoiberg and replaced him with former Spurs assistant Jim Boylen back on December 5th, which brought even more drama when some players staged a coup and refused to practice after getting smashed 133-77 at home by the Boston Celtics. If that wasn’t enough, one of the players reportedly told Boylen that he, “wasn’t Gregg Popovich,” showing that the team clearly wasn’t buying what Boylen was selling.

Chicago isn’t particularly good at anything when it comes to playing basketball against other NBA teams, ranking in the bottom third of most league statistics. The return of power forward Lauri Markkanen, who had a standout rookie season last year and was working his way back from a right elbow injury sustained in training camp, is the lone bright spot on a team that just demoted their biggest free agent signing, 2014 Chicago native 2nd overall pick Jabari Parker, to out-of-the-rotation status.

The Spurs

The Spurs have turned it on since coming back home. The defense looks better, the offense is flowing, LaMarcus Aldridge has come out of his slump and played himself into the player he was last season, and a 6-game home-stand looks to be just what the doctor ordered for a team with so many new parts that spent the first month of the season largely away from home. These Spurs are still a work in progress, but they appear to be figuring it out, which seemed impossible just last week when they stumbled back into San Antonio. The dismal and drama-filled Bulls should be easily dispatched by San Antonio, like they did the Clippers Thursday night.

With that being said, a game like this has all the makings of a trap game. Though Chicago is a mess, you can be sure that Gregg Popovich will be preaching his mantra of appropriate fear to his squad. San Antonio has begun to make a dent in the playoff picture. Even now, they’re just 4 games out of the 1st seed and 2 back of seeds 3 through 5. A 6-0 record on this home-stand would put them at 17-14 and have them firmly in the thick of the middle of the playoff race. All wins matter for this Spurs team and if the last week is an indicator of where they’re trending, they’ll come away with a more comfortable victory than the 1-point win they salvaged in Chicago.

Vegas line: Spurs by 12

Game prediction: Spurs by 15

For the Bulls fans’ perspective, visit Blog-A-Bull.

As always, May The System be with you.

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.