It’s funny, if you take a look at the papers (well, the Web sites of said papers) in both San Antonio and Chicago for tonight’s Spurs at Bulls game, both papers tout this matchup as a statement game. That’s rather odd considering that San Antonio has by far the best record in the league as well as the best road record. And Chicago is third in the East and has the second-best home record in basketball. This could well be an NBA Finals preview, yet both teams think they have something to prove. It should be an interesting matchup.
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How the Teams Enter
This is the final game of San Antonio’s annual Rodeo Road Trip, and the Spurs have gone an excellent 6-2, losing only at Portland and Philadelphia. But other than the Lakers and tonight’s game, the Spurs haven’t played a true contender on the trip. San Antonio should be well-rested, having been off since crushing New Jersey, 102-85, on Monday. With a victory tonight at the United Center, the Spurs would finish the annual trek 7-2, percentage-wise their best mark since 2004.
Chicago enters on a three-game winning streak, closing a five-game trip out west with impressive wins in Utah and New Orleans before beating Charlotte, 106-94, on Tuesday night despite Derrick Rose going just 5-for-14 from the field and turning the ball over six times. That was Chicago’s sixth straight win at home and 15th in 16 games.
Spurs at Bulls Story Lines
Obviously, both teams want to enter the break on a winning note. Especially Chicago, which is trying to keep pace with Miami and Boston for the potential top seed in the East and is expected to get back Joakim Noah in the first game after the break. The Spurs already pretty much have the West’s top seed nailed down if not the top record in the NBA.
Rose, who is averaging 24.5 points (most among point guards) and 8.2 assists, doesn’t hide the fact that this is a big game: "It would mean a lot. To see how far we came. I think when we played them [in San Antonio] we played a decent game but in the third quarter it got away from us and they came back. They're a great team and it's a measuring stick for us to see how good we are."
Back on Nov. 17, the Bulls ironically were on their own long road trip due to something taking up their arena: the circus. On that night the Bulls lost 103-94 in San Antonio, the second stop on a seven-game road trip. The Bulls built a 17-point, first-half lead but were outscored 37-12 in the third when the Spurs shot better than 70 percent. That game was rather memorable because Spurs point guard Tony Parker scored 21 points despite the game coming just hours after he and wife Eva Longoria filed for divorce. Rose had 33 points in that one as the Bulls were still without Carlos Boozer but did have Noah, who had 10 points and 14 rebounds. Taj Gibson, filling in for Boozer, missed all seven shots and didn't score.
Only the Spurs, at 21-5, have a better record than the Bulls' 19-6 mark since Dec. 26.
Spurs at Bulls Betting Odds and Key Trends
Chicago opened as a two-point favorite with the total at 189.5, according to NBA odds. The Bulls are 24-4 at home and 17-9-2 ATS. San Antonio is 21-7 on the road and 19-8-1 ATS.
The Spurs are 6-1 ATS in their past seven as an underdog (and road games).
The Bulls are 5-0-1 ATS in their past six vs. a team with a winning road record.
The under is 7-0 in Chicago’s past seven vs. teams with a winning record.
The under is 7-0 in the past eight meetings.
NBA Picks: Spurs at Bulls Predictions
With wins already over the Lakers, Mavericks, Heat, Celtics and Magic, the Bulls could stamp themselves as true title contenders by beating the Spurs. This is a tough one because the last game of a long road trip is often when a team can play lousy because it is looking forward to coming home. But the break might make that moot for San Antonio. Take the Spurs and the ‘under’.
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