Originally written on Project Spurs  |  Last updated 11/18/14
9f

The AT&T Center was occupied by cows, horses, sheep, rodeo clowns, and even Lady Antebellum but now the AT&T Center will finally be decorated with silver andblack from ground-up as the San Antonio Spurs (24-10) return for their first home game in 25 days. Though the building might still reek of livestock, the Spurs’ 13-1 home record they left with back on February 4th remains unaffected.

The Spurs face the second best team in the Eastern conference tonight, the Chicago Bulls. The Bulls are modeling themselves as a contender as they’re lead by MVP point guard Derrick Rose and tough tenacious defense.

Case No. 35: Chicago Bulls (28-8)

Road record: 14-6. Last 10 games: 8-2.

Commendable area for the Bulls

  • 1st Assists (23.3)
  • 2nd Opponents points (87.9), Rebounding (45.5), Offensive Rebounding (13.2)
  • 4th Field goal percentage (46%)
  • 5th Blocks (5.7), Three points percentage (38%)
  • 9th Points (97.3)
  • 25th Turnovers (13.7)
  • 28th Personal fouls (17.5)

Like Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich, Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau is all about defense before any other element on the floor. Aside from ranking in the top of most defensive categories, the Bulls also hold their opponents to 42% shooting per game. The Bulls also have four players on their team who average a little more than one steal per game.

The offense is efficient as the Bulls go about nine “effective” players deep. Little turnovers are made, the ball is spread around, and the big men on the glass either keep possessions alive or score on their own with offensive rebounding.

The King

Derrick Rose – 21.8 points, 7.7 assists, 17 FGA (46%), 4.2 3PT (32%), 5.8 FTA (82%)

Tony Parker and Rose just faced each other on Sunday in Orlando, though both didn’t play nearly as many minutes as they’ll play today, or didn’t guard each other as much as they’ll guard each other tonight.

The Knights

Luol Deng – 15.9 points, 6.9 rebounds, 1.1 steals, 14.4 FGA (42%)

With Kawhi Leonard out tonight, the Spurs are going to have some problems on the wing stopping Deng if Richard Jefferson has one of those quiet games.

Carlos Boozer – 15.8 points, 8.2 rebounds, 1 steal, 13.1 FGA (54%)

DeJuan Blair is coming off a 28-point performance against the Denver Nuggets before All-Star break, that game should have boosted his confidence level as he prepares to defend Boozers.

Richard Hamilton – 14.2 points, 13.6 FGA (45%)

Danny Green is rested andhas the young legs to chase Hamilton around screens tonight. Manu Ginobili is still out for the Spurs.

C.J. Watson – 10.4 points, 1.1 steals, 9.1 FGA (39%)

This is where missing Leonard and Ginobili could be a big problem for the Spurs. Watson is playing at a consistent level off of the bench for the Bulls, so if James Anderson is given minutes, it’ll be his turn to shine on the defensive end.

The Bishop

Joakim Noah – 9.5 points, 9.9 rebounds, 1.3 blocks, 7 FGA (50%)

Noah versus a rested Tim Duncan will be a good-tough matchup to watch for in the paint.

The Pawns

Kyle Korver – 7.7 points, 6 FGA (43%), 4.1 3PT (41%)

Gary Neal is questionable to play tonight, but if he does, he and Korver could put on a shooting display outside of 23.9 feet.

Ronnie Brewer – 7.6 points, 1.1 steals, 7.1 FGA (43%)

Taj Gibson – 7.4 points, 4.6 rebounds, 1.2 blocks, 6.1 FGA (51%)

Tiago Splitter is listed as questionable as well, but should he play, Gibson would be the player Splitter would need to get through. Matt Bonner will also make Gibson have to defend the entire court, as Bonner has been dangerous from behind the arc.

Game Expectation

With the injury problems the Spurs are facing, taking down the Bulls will be a tough task. However, because the Spurs are poised and focused at home, this should be a great low scoring classic game.

One area that does concern me personally is the Spurs’ defensive liability against the, what I call, “head first” or “bull” type point guards. These types of guards have displayed a weakness in the Spurs’ defensive armor that not many teams have seen.

When you look back at January 20th, that was the last time the Spurs lost at the AT&T Center. One big reason was the play of Sacramento Kings guard Tyreke Evans who scored 23 points and collected seven assists while shooting (attacking) 10-of-19 times and getting to the free throw line three times.

The next game that showed this weakness was Valentine’s Day, February 14th. The Spurs were on their Rodeo Road Trip (8-1) when they visited Detroit. The Pistons almost made a comeback behind point guard Rodney Stuckey who also had 23 points and eight assists. Stuckey shot 8-of-12 that night and got to the free throw line five times.

If Rose is in attack mode, this could be a huge concern for the Spurs as Rose usually attempts 5.8 free throws per game. As much as this younger Spurs team has found a new defensive identity, they’re still missing that smaller guard who could stop those “head first” type point guards that get to the line so frequently.

Parker isn’t a defensive stopper type point guard, Green isn’t as quick as a point guard, Neal is usually a step-behind, and even when he returns to full health, T.J. Ford isn’t big enough to be that guy.

The only remedy that I’ve seen that works against this type of play is a big night from Parker. If Parker can stay in attack mode and keep scoring, it keeps his opponent busy with focusing on defense, instead of using those energy bursts to attack the rim on offense.

The Frenchman whose name has been put in the MVP conversation for the first half of the season, ultimately, could be the biggest reason on whether the Spurs either win their 25th game of the season, or lose their 11th.

GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

WATCH: Blatt has special message for LeBron

Shaq once threatened to murder Kobe Bryant

Bryce Harper: Mike Trout is the best player in baseball

Report: Wilson skipped OTAs to attend funeral with Graham

Antonio Brown on contract: 'I've got enough' money

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Kaepernick posts insensitive joke about Houston floods

50 Cent’s boxing company files for bankruptcy

Rangers-Lightning Game 6: Prediction for elimination game

Phillies GM says team's fans 'don't understand the game’

Adrian Peterson reportedly has considered retirement

Report: Bulls could cheat Tom Thibodeau out of coaching jobs

FIFA officials arrested, to be extradited to US for corruption

WATCH: LeBron throws down huge dunk from inside FT line

Nick Saban says he caught 6-foot, 180-pound fish

WATCH: Vin Scully tells story about Gomes being attacked by wolf

WATCH: Kris Bryant launches home run off scoreboard

Transfer rumors: Drogba, Pirlo and Gomez linked to MLS

Robinson Cano's slump: The good news, the bad news

Joe Maddon unhappy over Cubs’ ‘awkward schedule’

Buck Showalter takes shot at Marlins over management

UGA wants SEC to ban transfers with 'serious misconduct' issues

Cavs' Kevin Love cleared to travel with team

Four crazy stats from the NBA Playoffs thus far

NBA News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Transfer rumors: Drogba, Pirlo and Gomez linked to MLS

Cano's slump: The good news, bad news

Disappointments of the MLB season

UGA wants SEC to ban transfers with misconduct issues

Long's great reaction to Bears releasing McDonald

Crazy stats from the NBA Playoffs

WATCH: Curry leaves game after nasty fall

Royals' Guthrie sets records in blowout

Bears cut McDonald after incident

Report: Pierce could opt out of contract

The Talented Mr. Blatt

Is Dellavedova a dirty player?

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.