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Game Preview: San Antonio Spurs vs. Chicago Bulls

Desperate for a win, the Spurs welcome a revamped Bulls team to San Antonio for a Saturday night match-up

NBA: San Antonio Spurs at Chicago Bulls David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

In an effort to bolster their roster, the Chicago Bulls were extremely busy at the trade deadline, acquiring 5 new players at last-call Thursday afternoon. That list of players includes 2x All Star big man Nikola Vucevic from the Orlando Magic, a move made with the clear intention of getting their own first-time All Star, Zach LaVine, some much-needed help. Chicago, though 5 games under .500, sits at 10th currently in the Eastern Conference standings and still has postseason aspirations due to both the new play-in tournament format and the lack of separation between everyone out East that isn’t Philadelphia, Brooklyn, or Milwaukee.

After coming back from 24 down in their first meeting with Chicago last Wednesday, the Spurs have followed that up with a 1-4 record, including back to back drubbings by the Clippers. With Bulls head coach Billy Donovan not getting his full roster together until the shootaround Saturday morning before the game, the Spurs will face a team that will have had extremely little time to get on the same page. With a handful of very winnable games left on this homestand, a good start tonight could be the boost of confidence they need to right the ship and finish the homestand out much stronger than they’ve started it.

Chicago Bulls (19-24) vs. San Antonio Spurs (22-20)

March 27, 2021 | 7:30 PM CT

Watch: FSSW | Listen: WOAI (1200 AM

Spurs Injuries: Marquese Chriss: out for season (leg), Lonnie Walker IV: day to day (wrist), Keita Bates-Diop: out (hamstring)

Bulls Injuries: Daniel Theis: out (personal)

What to watch for

  • In his 10th season, Nikola Vucevic is averaging career-best numbers in points per game (28), assists per game (3.8), free throw percentage (82.7%). He has also made a dramatic transformation this year into a 3 point shooter, averaging the most makes, attempts, and 3PT% of his entire career by significant margins (2.7/6.6, 40.5%). In an earlier match-up with the Spurs this month while with the Magic, Vucevic went 12/18 from the field for 28 points in a 104-77 blowout victory for San Antonio.
  • The Spurs used a major free throw disparity to their advantage in the first game against Chicago, going 22/30 for the game compared to 8/9 for the Bulls. Considering the game was in Chicago, that disparity is a bit thought-provoking. Could Chicago flip the script in that department tonight?
  • Zach LaVine is also averaging career numbers across the board. One of the handful of players across the league that could be considered a, “bucket,” the first time All Star is averaging a career-best 28 points a game this season while shooting a ridiculous 43.7% from beyond the arc, a number that would shatter his previous career-best (38.9% in 2016-2017) if it were to hold up for the entire season. LaVine’s 29-6-6 in the first game with San Antonio ultimately wouldn’t be enough to hold the Spurs off in their comeback bid. With a newfound belief in the Chicago front office and the memory of that blown 24-point lead still fresh, expect LaVine to be amped up tonight.
  • There could be some chemistry issues for Chicago to watch for coming into the night. With just the aforementioned Saturday morning shootaround to get the group together for the first time, there could be more than the usual amount of miscues a team goes through throughout the course of a game. The Spurs will have to make Chicago pay for those unforced errors when they occur while protecting the ball the way they have all season long themselves.
  • Similar to the Spurs, Chicago has played slightly better on the road than they have at home this season. They’re currently 10-8 on the road this season.

For the Bulls fan’s perspective, please visit Blog a Bull.

As always, the PtR Game Thread will be up on the site 30 minutes before tip-off for all who wish to interact with on another on PtR.