The Spurs are one of the league's elite teams. They crushed Chicago from the three point line in their last matchup despite playing without Duncan, Ginobili, and Parker. The Bulls will square off against the Spurs on the road while Parker misses the game again.
On the surface, there doesn't appear to be much of a shot for Chicago. The Spurs are amazing at home, amazing overall, and the Bulls are missing too many players to put up a challenge. However, over the past few games, we've seen the Bulls start playing like the Bulls again. The hustle is back, the defense is back, and the pride is back.
This is a team playing much better basketball than the last time these two teams faced off despite the fact they're missing Taj Gibson with Kirk Hinrich and Rip Hamilton possibly (likely?) out as well. To win, the Bulls need to ugly up the game, run the Spurs off the three point line, and turn it into a sloppy affair.
The Bulls can't match the Spurs firepower when the Spurs offense is working and generating open corner threes for their plethora of shooters. However, they can hang around, scrap and fight, pick up some offensive boards, and hope to give themselves a chance at the end. It's probably a long shot. The Spurs are likely too disciplined, too good, and too deep. Especially when the Bulls will likely go to the bottom five on the bench again.
However, after playing more inspired basketball over the past three games, it at least feels like anything is possible again, even if it's not likely.
If/When Rose comes back, how much will he play?
Joakim Noah's playing through a painful foot injury and getting 40+ minutes a night. He's admitted how bad it is, and the minutes keep on coming. Tom Thibodeau seems to have no regard whatsoever for the toll it's taking on Joakim. Vinny Del Negro was physically choked for the same decision. Maybe Thibodeau is too tough to choke, I know I wouldn't try it.
Thibodeau's black and white viewpoint when it comes to health (you're either healthy and playing or you're not) shouldn't apply to Rose when he comes back. This likely seems intuitively obvious to all of us, but Thibodeau seems to have no regard whatsoever to Noah's long term health if he can get an extra rebound or put back out of him in the present game. It's worth wondering what controls will be put in place when Derrick returns.
It's absurd to suggest that Rose would play 40 minutes a night within a week of his return, but it's not so absurd to think Tom Thibodeau would allow Rose to do it if Derrick said he felt fine. Nor is it absurd to think that Derrick, once he returns to the court, will only be taken off of kicking and screaming.
With two guys, both maniacal about winning, someone better put controls on this thing for a couple weeks while everyone observes how Derrick's body responds and whether or not he's getting any compensatory injuries. Maybe it's a non issue, but I'd hate to see the joy of a Rose return turn into the heart break of a new Rose injury two weeks later.
The Bulls signed Lou Amundson to a ten day contract recently, but he didn't play against the Pacers. The Bulls went with Vlad and Nazr and both played reasonably well giving the Bulls quality minutes. It's interesting, because it's probably the first time either have played well this season. Given the results, I can't really complain about a lack of playing Amundson, but I think he's better than either of those guys.
He was someone I was rooting for the Bulls to acquire as a reserve big this summer, so I'm hoping we get a chance to see him on the court ahead of a couple of guys we know haven't been able to produce. Amundson's the type of player who can get in the heads of other teams with his hustle and energy. He can't really do much of anything offensively or defensively on the court other than scrap, but at the right moments that can really help turn momentum around.
I don't see Nazr or Vlad ever really swinging momentum with their play.