16 February 2011
The San Antonio Spurs travel to the United Center on Thursday night to play the Chicago Bulls for the second time this season.
This is another measuring stick game for the Bulls, even without Joakim Noah. Noah is expected to return to the team after the All-Star break.
Jeff of Project Spurs has been kind enough to answer a few questions before tomorrow night’s game. I’ve done the same, so go check out his site.
1. The Spurs have been one of the best teams since Tim Duncan has been in the league. What is that key component that has carried them through the years?
You said it - Duncan. He has been the type of leader on the court to compliment the coaching style of head Coach Gregg Popovich. Unselfish, willing to take a lessor role like this season, team-first mentality, Duncan is a dream franchise player any NBA team would want.
Mix in two complimentary stars in their own right, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili, and the NBA has seen that these three have accomplished.
2. Is Gregg Popovich the best coach in the league? What separates him from other coaches?
Yes. No question. Look what Pop has done with one team: four NBA titles and a perennial playoff team. Phil Jackson got it done with two different teams (Bulls, and Lakers), and Pop knows how to relate to his players.
3. Everyone thinks of the Spurs as older, but they have some young role players in Neal and George Hill. What have they brought to this team?
Neal has been a find. Bounced around overseas, participant in the 2010 NBA Summer League to now being a regular rotation player for Popovich and what a way to make his NBA debut. Neal scored seven points in 12 minutes in his first preseason game and was called on to hit a last-second, game-winning shot against the Clippers in Mexico City. Through the month of December, Neal averaged over 11 points per game including three games where he scored over 20 points.
Hill is the Spurs sixth-man but if he was on any other team, he'd be a starter. We all know about what he can put up stats-wise, but dig deeper. He knows he can be a starting point guard in the NBA, but he defers in order for a chance at capturing an NBA title.
4. Will the Spurs make a move at the trading deadline?
If it's not broke, why fix it? The Spurs haven’t made any major trades in sometime. The last "big" trade during the season was getting Kurt Thomas. If anything they will look to shore up their weakest link -- lack of big men. There are rumblings Nets' Troy Murphy is on their radar and there was a report the Spurs expressed interest in Cavaliers forward Anthony Parker.
In the end, I do not see the Spurs making any major moves.
5. Who wins?
Spurs but it will be a fight. The Bulls will want to prove themselves against the best in the NBA. In the end, the lack of Joakim Noah as a defensive presence to check Tim Duncan. Derrick Rose vs. Tony Parker will be great to watch but Manu Ginobili will be a lot to handle for the Bulls. Spurs hand the Bulls their fifth loss in Chicago.
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