Preview: Discipline (Bulls) vs. Fundamentals (Spurs) Tonight!

Brendan Maloney-USA TODAY Sports

Well Pippen Peoples, are you over your LeBron being LeBeat hangover yet? Are you still sky high over Chicago’s overtime defeat over the two-time world champion Miami Heat Sunday afternoon? Well it’s time to get over it because it doesn’t get any easier on Tuesday against the San Antonio Spurs. I really don’t know how this team does it every year. No matter the age of their “Big Three” Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobli and Tony Parker, they seem to keep right on rolling. No matter how Coach Gregg Popovich tries to hide his star players from being overworked, the Spurs are always a threat. I will give Coach Popovich credit, everyone seems to talk about his interviewing skills during the games, but I like the creative ways of resting his players. If it’s not sending all of his star players home to San Antonio while sending a 250,000 check to the  NBA offices for the trouble or giving Tim Duncan a DNP-old or my favorite, shutting Tony Parker down after the All-Star game for a “variety of maladies”. Really, what in the name of a knee strain is that? Despite all of this, the Spurs stand at the top of the Western Conference…again. I’m thinking with the playoffs upon us, the Bulls will face the Spurs at full strength. The Spurs are looking to avenge that beat down the Bulls put on them in San Antonio back in January shocking everyone 96-86.

The constant thing I say about the Bulls is this. If you want to beat them, teams must bring two things to the table. One is discipline and two, a low post scorer.  Well the Spurs have both. The Spurs have an offensive system built around Tim Duncan that has worked since the man was drafted. When Duncan started going up in age, Popovich changed the philosophy of the system  and sped up the offense with the emphasis being put on Tony Parker. Then he surrounded players like Danny Green who had his coming out party during the NBA Finals last year, Boris Diaw who was collecting dust with the Charlotte Bobcats and Marco Bellinelli who specializes in getting buckets. How good is this system? Austin Daye who was acquired in a trade actually looks like he actually is not stealing a roster spot. Like really, who even thought Daye was still in the league? The Spurs actually was one missed free throw, a rebound and a shot of the ages from Ray Allen from being World Champs. Do you think LeBron would be staying in Miami if that had happened?  The Spurs are actually one of the few teams in the NBA that can stand up to the Bulls defensive execution and survive. The Spurs move the ball efficiently and rarely take bad shots. Also they have Duncan who can work the post quite well thank you very much.

The Spurs are on a hot streak winning their last six games and sit atop the NBA with the best record…again.  The Bulls have to keep Tony Parker out of the middle. After sitting out for “maladies” (also read rest) for five games, Parker absolutely carved up the Miami Heat last week and set the tone in a 111-87 win. It was the largest margin of defeat for the Heat this year. If Parker has a repeat performance because Kirk Hinrich can’t stay in front of him, the Bulls are going to have issues. The guy that the Bulls are really  going to have to deal with is Kwahi Leonard. Jimmy Butler will probably draw this assignment. If he can do half of what he did on Sunday, the Bulls should be fine with his efforts. Leonard has been out with an injury this season, but since returning  he has gotten more aggressive and more efficient. He provides the athleticism that the Spurs need to be effective in this year’s title run. The evolution of the Spurs going into the future will start and end with this guy. He is a budding superstar who will have the Bulls attention at all times.

I could throw a lot of scenarios out about what the Bulls need to win but let’s keep it real. The Bulls cannot come out slowly on offense. The Spurs are too good defensively. Look, I love Joakim Noah to death, but sometimes he tries to thread that needle sometimes and that is not going to fly against a fundamentally sound team like the Spurs. The Bulls sometimes struggle with turnovers and get sloppy at times. Speaking  of fundamental, let’s talk about the “Big Fundamental” Tim Duncan. Noah will have to cancel him out. Tim Duncan might be 63 years old but  he can put a whooping on people on some nights. Does anyone remember the thrashing he put on Chris Bosh in the Finals last year? He took Bosh’s game and heart and put it in his pocket. If the Bulls let him get that patented bank shot smoothed out it will be a long night. Here’s the point, this game is about putting the ball in the basket more than your opponent. The Bulls need to bring this philosophy to the game tonight.

I am going to put my neck out on the chopping block and say this…Carlos Boozer will have a big game. If you are a Bulls fan you’d better hope I am right. Carlos is going to have to get out on a fast start and be aggressive. If Noah draws the defensive assignment on Duncan, that leaves Tiago Splitter who can be had by Boozer. If Carlos Boozer attacks Splitter instead of trying to make it rain with those 17 footers of his, Splitter can be rendered ineffective and get into early foul trouble. Now if he can get Boris Diaw in the game, it should be a 20 point night for him. Or he could make me look ridiculous and set me up for yet another rant.

The Bulls need to keep winning because the Brooklyn Nets beat the Toronto Raptors last night. Brooklyn is coming Pippen Peoples. They have matched Chicago win for win in 2014. Plus their win put the Bulls one game in the loss column behind the Raptors for the third seed.