After playing six games in a row on the road the Chicago Bulls return home for a quick one game home stand against the San Antonio Spurs. This game marks the first of two meetings between these two teams for the 2012-2013 season. The Bulls come into tonight's matchup fresh off an ugly win against the Utah Jazz while the Spurs look for their 13th win in the past 14 games.
Perhaps the biggest story for tonight's game lies within the vast amount of injuries both teams have. The presence, or lack there of, one or more of the starters could completely change the outcome of the game.
Chicago has injuries scattered throughout the roster all of which have been spoken about in great depth already. Joakim Noah remains day-to-day as he battles plantar fasciitis. Noah has been able to play through the foot injury the past couple of games, however his ability to move around is clearly effected. Noah has not looked good in the past few games and seems to be dealing with a great deal of pain. There seems to be a good chance he could miss the game tonight especially with the news that he may even have to miss his first All-Star game. Noah's impact on the game for Chicago can only be understated as he has fueled this team and put them in the position they're in now. Carlos Boozer also remains day-to-day with a hamstring injury that he has been playing through. Though he has looked slow since his return, I expect Boozer to play tonight. Marco Belinelli is also day-to-day (seeing the trend yet?) with an ankle injury. His status is unknown. Lastly, Kirk Hinrich is, you guessed it, day-to-day with an elbow injury. His status for the game is also unknown.
The number of injuries to the Spurs are not nearly as numerous but are just impactful as San Antonio may have to be without two of their best players: Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobli. Ginobli has already missed four games in a row for a tight hamstring and Duncan has missed three in a row for a sore knee. Their status for the game against Chicago is unknown, especially since no one knows what could possibly be going through Greg Popovich's head.
Regardless of who plays the matchup between these two teams should be a good one. Both teams are used to playing without their core players and have shown they have enough to win without them. The game is a tossup (I'd say more in favor of the Spurs given how bad Chicago has been against Western Conference teams), and just about anything can happen regardless of who plays.
Key Matchup: Coach Greg Popovich vs Coach Tom Thibodeau
Both Popovich and Thibodeau are the best coaches in the NBA right now and it's not close. Both employ similar no-nonsense techniques in their coaching but approach it in significantly different manners. Popovich quietly sits on the sideline observing his team breaking down what's happening on the floor. He pushes the Spurs to get every win without pushing the core players beyond their limit. Thibodeau on the other hand can often be found screaming and pacing on the sidelines while pushing most every one of his players to the brink. The chess match between these two contrasting styles should be fun to watch. Regardless of who plays, both coaches will have their hands full trying to find rotations that work, run sets that exploit the other's weakness, and adjust to the sets employed against them self.
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