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Bulls vs Spurs game preview and live open thread: DeRozan returns to San Antonio

should be an even matchup

NBA: Toronto Raptors at Chicago Bulls Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

Bulls got a bit schedule-lucky last game with the visiting Raptors, well, visiting, and on a back-to-back and without their lead guard. But despite the Bulls looking shaky in the 4th quarter yet again, they got a victory. And Ws are all that matters in the present as they navigate these next 6-8 weeks without their starting and backup point guard.

They do still have Zach LaVine and DeMar DeRozan, who both should be all stars next month but only DeRozan so far is official, announced as an Eastern Conference starter last night. Tonight is DeRozan’s first game in San Antonio since his sign-and-trade to Chicago, after playing 3 seasons there under Gregg Popovich. As we have now seen, DeRozan was good there but relatively overlooked. In Chicago, he’s playing even better and getting All-Star starter nods, incredible at an age-32 season.

In his absence, the Spurs were thought to maybe be firmly out of the playoff picture for the first time in a long while, but the bottom of the Western Conference being ‘the bad conference’ for once has changed that a bit. They’re currently 12th after a recent slide, but that’s only 2.5 games out of the play-in. So the Spurs are still playing for wins, but organizationally may be sellers this trade deadline. Never one to make many trades in-season, they did send out Bryn Forbes a couple weeks ago for 2nd round picks, and may do the same with old friend Thaddeus Young who is barely playing for them.

(sadly, ‘no’: Young can’t be traded to the Bulls as they traded him there less than a year ago)

So the Spurs are not tanking, but they’re not good. Yet the Bulls are betting underdogs which is a bit surprising. But maybe the line-setters know that this non-Ball/Caruso Bulls team is just not performing well with guard pressure on both sides of the ball. They lack playmaking, composure and 3-point shooting on offense, and the point of attack aggressiveness on defense. But that’s how it’s gonna be for the time being, even more reliance on DeRozan and LaVine to get up quality shots without much help.

Injury Report:

No change for the Bulls, all their long-term injuries are still there.

For the Spurs, their only rotation absence is Keita Bates-Diop, who’s in COVID protocols.

Game Time: 7:30pm central, NBC Sports Chicago