2010-11 Game Preview #10: Bulls at San Antonio Spurs

[Nice of 'sin' to take a break from his favorite team (Miami) and player (Carmelo) to provide today's game preview (sign up!) Make sure to check out the preview from SBNation bro-site Pounding the Rock as well. -ed.]

So I hear Eva Longoria is single again. Sweet. Oh wait...that's not what I'm supposed to be talking about. Okay, here goes:

24 hours after our hero Rose dominated the Rockets it's time for Chapter 2 of the Circus Trip saga.  Tonight, we face the old guys, you know the team everyone loves to write off because of age and injury and all that fun stuff.  How hard could it be to beat a bunch of old guys right?  Wait what's that?  What the hell?  They're 8-1??  They've won 7 in a row since losing to the were-playing-out-of-their-minds Hornets??  Eh-oh.  Get the panic patrols ready, cause I sense some fun threads tonight.

Tonight's one of those nights where we're really going to appreciate Derrick Rose giving us those 'OMFG' plays, because odds are when you're playing the Spurs (and you're trying to play defense too), it's going to be a snoozefest of a game.  I doubt either team hits 100, although the Spurs have been scoring relatively high as of late (mostly due to an overtime game against the Rockets and some easy blowout games).  There's no way the Spurs keep pace as the second highest scoring team for the entire season, although we could be the victims of another high scoring game if our defense isn't sharp and quick to close out on their shooters.

On our side, I think tonight's game is definitely going to be another great test to gauge how far our defense has come.  With a healthy Manu and Parker and a Richard Jefferson finally playing somewhat up to his heist of a contract, we really are going to need some great perimeter defense.  Mostly I'm worried about Manu, as Derrick has shown good improvement on his defensive game and should be able to do a decent job on Parker, so long as he stays out of foul trouble.  Deng SHOULD have his way with Jefferson (this is assuming Deng shows up at all).

Now, the front court battle? Here's where the fun's going to be at.  We have the greatest Power Forward ever playing center now in Tim Duncan, and he's a damn good center although seems to be coming up slowly this year (maybe due to age, maybe due to a limitation on minutes).  We've seen Noah beast some of the better big men in league already and tonight brings a very intriguing matchup for him.  Two polar opposites in terms of personality and shooting strokes (think Tornado vs. that beautiful bank shot), but both talented, Noah should fare much better this year against Duncan.  I remember Duncan doing particularly well against our front court in years past.  The other half of the big men matchups brings an even more intriguing matchup in Taj Gibson vs. Dejuan Blair.  The old man we took vs. the guy many people wanted (myself included). Although, I must say: with the recent improvements Taj has shown, even a huge Tyrus fan that spent the better part of last year hating on Taj has officially become a fan.  It looks like management may have made the right call there, considering with Taj we are only fighting the power of age as opposed to waiting for Blair's knees to give out (and I sincerely hope that they don't, because he seems like a nice guy but it is something that will be a concern his entire career).

Keys to winning the game for us?

-Defense.  Our defense has to be very alert tonight.  The Spurs are a totally different beast when they have their outside shot going so it's important that we keep a hand in their faces and make sure to close out on all shooters.
-Rose vs. Parker.  Another quick point guard that likes to cut and drive to the hoop.  Rose needs to be able to play good defense while making sure not to get himself into foul trouble as he did trying to contain Westbrook on opening night.
-Who will stop Manu? Bogans? Brewer? Someone better do it. I have my money on Brewer, although who knows what Thibs will do.
-Bench play.  Spurs boast a pretty strong bench and ours has been known to kill leads and dig us huge holes.  I'm personally excited to a close look at Tiago Splitter and how he's adapting to the NBA game.

If we compete as hard as we did last night, and Deng shows up at least a little, then we should put up a damn good fight.  I'm thinking we pull this one out before losing to Dallas or the Lakers.

Swing by Pounding The Rock for a Spurs point of view.

Bulls vs Spurs coverage starts at 8:30. We're on ESPN tonight (and we should get the Hubie team since JVG/Jackson/Breen are likely covering the Heat game before ours).

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