The San Antonio Spurs are four days removed from perhaps the busiest trade deadline in the franchise history. Despite the rapid shuffling of players, San Antonio is riding a two-game winning streak as they head into the Windy City for their second date with the Chicago Bulls this season.
The first matchup went in San Antonio’s favor, as the Silver and Black had three starters reach 21 points or more while holding Chicago to 26.7% shooting from three-point land.
Despite entering this contest with a shorthanded starting lineup, Chicago is undoubtedly hungry to get revenge for that loss. The Bulls will be without Zach LaVine and Lonzo Ball, but former USC standouts turned NBA All-Stars, DeMar DeRozan and Nikola Vucevic, have kept their club afloat with three straight wins heading into the matchup.
As for the Spurs, they have uncovered newfound life after inserting Devin Vassell into their starting lineup. The second-year Florida State product has averaged 17.0 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 3.5 assists while posting strong shooting splits of 55.4/67.5/100 since the team parted ways with Derrick White.
Now sitting at 2-1 during the Rodeo Road Trip, San Antonio will have a shot to sweep the season series versus Chi-Town’s finest. But before we kick off this matchup, here are three intriguing keys for Spurs fans to keep an eye on.
San Antonio Spurs (22-35) at Chicago Bulls (36-21)
February 14, 2022 | 7:00 PM CT
Watch: Bally Sports Southwest | Listen: WOAI (1200 AM)
Spurs Injuries: Goran Dragic (Out — Not with Team)
Bulls Injuries: Patrick Williams (Out — Wrist), Alex Caruso (Out — Wrist), Lonzo Ball (Out — Knee), Zach LaVine (Out — Knee), Javonte Green (Day-to-Day — Foot)
What to watch for:
- Are we watching peak Dejounte? It’s no secret the emergence of Dejounte Murray has been a wonderful surprise for this rebuilding Spurs team. The first time All-Star has put together an electric sixth season. As the engine of the offense and a pillar of the defense, Murray has catapulted himself into the discussion as one of the best two-way players in basketball. After a fantastic January, DJ is putting together the best month of his career in February. Dejounte has averaged 25.0 points, 11.2 assists, 7.8 rebounds on 55.3/35.3/88.2 shooting splits this month, and he seems to improve every game. With the Super Bowl likely on everyone’s mind, let’s make a couple of quarterback and coach analogies. Dejounte is like Matthew Stafford, and Pop is like Sean McVay. Or, DJ is Lamar Jackson, and Pop is John Harbaugh. Both quarterbacks are immensely talented but operate at their peak performance within a carefully structured offense. Like Lamar Jackson and Matthew Stafford, Dejounte wouldn’t be the player he is today if he were in another location. That isn’t a bad thing. He fits as perfectly as he can for what the Spurs have asked of him this season. What makes this even more fascinating is that Dejounte seemingly improves the more they rely on him, and he still has room to grow as a scorer and facilitator. Against a tough Bulls team, pay close attention to Dejounte’s performance because this may be the best stretch of hoops we’ve seen from the Seattle native.
- Can the Spurs continue to string winning performances together? The ups and downs of this young team have ranged from gritty, grind-it-out victories against playoff-caliber teams to head-scratching performances against lesser opponents. Whether it was moving guys like Derrick White and Drew Eubanks or the Spurs capitalizing on bad teams en route to both of their recent wins, consistency has been lacking in San Antonio throughout this season. Monday’s game is a good chance to see where the team stands post-trade-deadline, even though Chicago is missing two starters and a key rotation guy. Does this team have a newly-lit fire under them to close out this season, or is this the same story with a slightly different cast?
- How will Josh Richardson and Romeo Langford fit into the rotation? Coach Popovich mentioned that he expects Langford and Richardson to join the team in Chicago before the Spurs tipped off in New Orleans. The duo could carve out a role in the Alamo City, as each wing brings something the Spurs need. Of the 260 players who have suited up for at least 700 minutes this season, Romeo Langford ranks in the 66th in defensive versatility; and Richardson’s 40% shooting off the catch from three-point range places him among the best in the league as a catch-and-shoot marksman. If Richardson and Langford make their debuts against the Bulls, it will be good to see if they fit in alongside the second unit.
For the Bulls fan’s perspective, please visit Blog a Bull.
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.