The Bulls escaped with a win against Houston, and escaping with a win might be the best thing that could have happened to influence their chances to play tonight as the starters played poorly overall and likely were laid into by the head coach after the game.
In an interesting sub plot, Eva Longoria filed for divorce with Tony Parker which will either have him distracted or ready to take his vengeance out on the Bulls, your guess is as good as mine.
The Spurs pose a difficult matchup for our Bulls due to the bulk they have in the front court.
Keys to the game
Step up and help Derrick Rose
Unlike the Rockets, the Spurs have plenty of interior defense to help cut off Rose when he gets into the lane. Tony Parker also has enough speed to harass Rose on the perimeter and make his life difficult. The Bulls aren't going to get past the Spurs with the starters playing poorly and hoping for Derrick to bail them out again.
Luol Deng and Joakim Noah in particular need to play at a high level in order for the Bulls to have a shot in this game.
Run them to death
The Bulls are coming off a back to back, but they're still a lot younger and more athletic than the San Antonio Spurs team is. The Bulls need to get out there and push the tempo as fast as they can in order to turn the game into their style of game.
Getting early offense will be the key in getting easy baskets as the Spurs are a disciplined defensive team. Not only will ramping up the pace help with the offense, but if it forces the Spurs to abandon their attack on the offensive boards it may decrease our odds of getting killed by offensive rebounds.
Noah on Duncan away from the basket, help when he goes inside
Tim Duncan is always a load to deal with, but Noah has the size, speed, and strength to hang with Duncan when he's posting up in the mid post or facing up. When Duncan gets position in the low post, it's time to help with a double team though.
After watching Luis Scola destroy Taj Gibson last night, we don't want to start the game with a more skilled, bigger, stronger, version of the same player on Gibson tonight.
Close out on the corner
The Spurs are the masters of the corner three which is one of the most efficient shots in basketball. Their offense is geared towards delivering these opportunities, so the Bulls need to be cognizant of where the shots are going to come from and cover up on the man in the corner even if it means giving up a wing three instead.
If the Bulls get this one, it's gravy. They needed to win last night, and they did. However, there's no reason to settle. The team that best imposes it's style of play on the game is likely to come out on top, however it's a lot tougher for a high tempo team to force the pace up than it is for a slow down team to force the pace down. I predicted the Bulls to lose prior to the start of the trip, and I still think that's likely.
At the same time, they aren't going to be dominated in terms of talent, so if they play control the fundamentals and keep the pace high they can steal this one.