The reeling Spurs will have one more chance to snap their losing streak at home before going on their annual Rodeo Road Trip, which will have them away from the AT&T Center for nine straight games. Their opponent will be a Bulls team coming off a big win over the Trail Blazers and looking to find some consistency.
The Spurs have really been struggling with injuries lately, which has made it impossible for them to play to their full potential. Devin Vassell is still sidelined and other starters and rotations players have been missing time, which has really tested the depth of a roster that is not exactly brimming with proven talent. They have played hard and have tried to keep games close, but it’s been hard to compete for the entire 48 minutes against superior opponents. The losses have piled up, which is not bad news when it comes to draft odds but probably has the players feeling down. A win before the Rodeo Road Trip would be huge for morale.
It won’t be easy to get one, though. The Bulls might be merely mediocre this year and could potentially be thinking of making moves before the deadline, but they have talent. In their win over the Blazers on Saturday, Zach LaVine went off for 36 points while DeMar DeRozan and Nikola Vucevis poured in 27 and 23, respectively. If those three are feeling it, Chicago can put points on the board in a hurry. The visitors will also have an edge when the second units check in, as their bench has been good this season and the absences have destroyed San Antonio’s depth. A win for the Spurs is not impossible to imagine, but it will take a huge team effort to get it.
San Antonio Spurs (14-39) vs Chicago Bulls (25-27)
February 6, 2023 | 7:00 PM CT
Watch: BSSW | Listen: WOAI (1200 AM)
Spurs Injuries: Devin Vassell (knee — OUT), Jeremy Sochan (back — OUT), Romeo Langford (hip — OUT), Blake Wesley (G League assignment—OUT), Tre Jones (foot — Questionable), Keldon Johnson (Ankle — Questionable)
Bulls Injuries: Lonzo Ball (Knee — OUT), Alex Caruso (Foot — Questionable)
What to watch for:
Malaki Branham, on fire. The Spurs’ rookie has had consecutive 20-plus point games and has looked confident doing it. His mid-range game has been on point and he has been patient in looking for his shot or playing within the offense to get his buckets efficiently. It’s been an encouraging stretch for a player that looked a little lost earlier in the season but has been finding his place in the league lately. Will he be able to put together another high-scoring game against a solid Bulls defense? It could be a tough task, especially if Keldon Johnson or Tre Jones miss the game and Alex Caruso is there to guard the young guard. One of the silver linings of all the injuries at the wing has been seeing Branham come into his own. Hopefully he’ll keep making the most out of this opportunity.
Can the Spurs get enough stops? The Bulls are not a great offensive team, but they have two wings who can fill it up and a stretch big, which normally gives Poeltl trouble. In the last matchup, DeMar DeRozan dropped 33 points on San Antonio and Chicago scored 124 despite a quiet night from Vucevic and not having Zach LaVine available. The Spurs are by far the worst defensive team in the league and have allowed over 120 points in four out of their last five games, but normally they can keep up by scoring a lot themselves. The problem is that the Bulls are decent at getting stops and the absences have left San Antonio with not enough firepower to simply trade buckets. Unless Gregg Popovich can come up with a way to defend Chicago’s scorers, the ninth straight loss might be on the horizon.
For the Bulls fan’s perspective, please visit Blog a Bull.
If you’d like to, you may follow along with the game on our Twitter profile (@poundingtherock) or visit our Game Thread!