[Thanks to BigSmooveDucky for today's game preview. Joakim Noah and Kirk Hinrich are gametime decisions. For the Spurs, Manu Ginobili was hurt last night, adding to their list of 'outs' alongside Leonard, Green, and Splitter -yfbb]
Tim Duncan survived the meteor shower that killed Chris Bosh's ancestors, and he's still showing these younguns a thing or two. The Spurs look the same as they always have: solid, old man basketball, albeit a step slower.
They have wavered of late, going 2-4 losing to the Trail Blazers, Thunder, Heat, and Rockets. Still, they have 33 wins on the season and are still one of the better teams in the West. A large factor to the Spurs success has been their 3-point shooting. As a team, they are shooting at a 40% clip from beyond the arc and have six players shooting 40+% on at least forty attempts on the season. Despite their hot shooting they hold a mere 3-12 record against "championship caliber" teams (Blazers, Thunder, Clippers, Heat, Pacers, Rockets, Warriors). It is only the regular season and records like this don't hold too much significance, but this isn't anything to sneeze at either.
While they haven't had the same kind of success as the former, the Bulls have been able to hang with most teams this season, finally reaching the .500 mark earlier this month. They have lost to teams they should beat, and they've beaten teams they should lose to. This Bulls team is a confusing, yet fun to watch, mess. If last year didn't prove ThibsBall is some of the best basketball out there, then this year definitely should. It's been ugly more times than not, but the team keeps grinding and hauling ass and has completely dispelled any tank talk, as they still believe they can beat anyone any given night and win a title. And I'm inclined to believe they can.
I believe the key to tonight's matchup for the Bulls is to attack early and often on both the offensive and defensive end. The Spurs are crafty and intelligent, but not necessarily quick. DJ Augustin and Jimmy Butler need to be aggressive in looking for their shots and get to the bucket as much as possible. Mike Dunleavy and Tony Snell need to shoot well enough to keep the Spurs' defense honest, while Taj Gibson, Jo Noah and Carlos Boozer need to stay physical in the paint and be strong on the boards. I foresee a fairly close and highly competitive game, and this could be one of the best regular season games the Bulls will have played so far.
Tip-off is at 8:30PM CT, CSN-Chicago/ESPN and ESPN 1000AM