The Chicago Bulls have a great record so far. They've also played a cream puff schedule. That won't hold the rest of the season, and the difficulty starts tonight with a trip to San Antonio.
The Chicago Bulls are coming off a tough win requiring late game heroics and a day of travel while the Spurs are coming off of a bunch of rest from all-star weekend. The Bulls will get the Spurs A game tonight.
Parker vs Rose
Parker strikes me as a poor man's Rose in many respects. Their games are similar in style, but Derrick is bigger and more athletic which is the difference between being an all-star and an MVP. That said, Parker is certainly capable of putting up big numbers offensively, but Rose tends to defend elite PGs well and certainly ahs the ability to shut him down.
Unfortunately for the Spurs, the reverse doesn't hold true. Parker really has little hope of containing Rose, whom crushes smaller PGs on offense. If Rose struggles with anything defensively it's getting double teamed by multiple length, athletic players. The Spurs don't really have that in the toolbox to throw at him.
As such, I expect a big game from Derrick tonight.
Who wins the front court battle?
The Spurs have some quality depth up front. Tim Duncan's long in the tooth but is still probably the best big man on the floor. Tiago Splitter and DeJuan Blair are the type of big men who can hurt Chicago inside while Bonner is the type of big man who can hurt Boozer's fear of stepping out to the three point line on defense.
The Bulls have as much talent defensively as the Spurs, but the Spurs have specific matchups they can take advantage of to win this battle.
If it comes down to threes....
Both teams bring plenty of fire power when it comes to three point shooting, but the Bulls players strike me as considerably less consistent at it than their Spurs counterparts. The Spurs shoot and make a ton of three pointers every game, and if there's one thing Greg Popovich knows, it's that the corner three is the most efficient shot this side of the dunk.
The Bulls need to be careful with how they gamble and make sure to guard the corners, because the Spurs will spot up there every play and run their offense to generate that look as one of the primary options. They'll also need to make sure Taj is out there to harass Bonner at the three point line or hope that Boozer steps up and stays out of the paint.
What will the Bulls get from the wings?
Derrick Rose always gives the Bulls quality offense. The big men almost always provide quality defense and rebounding. Where the Bulls are most inconsistent from their wing offense. Both Deng and Hamilton can score in volume, but they also both vary tremendously in their efficiency doing so.
The pair both frequently put up 6 for 18 and 7 for 20 games on route to scoring 18. The Bulls need at least one of the pair to step up and have a quality offensive night to keep Chicago's offense running smoothly.
Bulls need this one and a whole bunch more
Chicago's got a nice record at 28-8, but they've not fared well against quality opponents. They've only got two stretches left this season where they play weaker opponents in back to back games. As such, we'll see where the Bulls really are in the pecking order of the league's elite teams soon.