With the Spurs-Bulls game coming up tonight, who better to ask than Chicago sports superfan Sarah Spain for our first Gameday Q&A of the season. Sarah blogs at No Spain No Gain, hosts the Fantasy Players Minute and has a bevy of freelance experience in reporting, writing, acting, modeling and radio work. Sarah may have an unhealthy obsession with Michael Jordan, but there's no questioning her knowledge of the Bulls as you'll see with the following six questions I posed to her for tonight's game.
1. With Derrick Rose likely to see limited minutes in the opening game vs. the Spurs, what will the Bulls do to stop Tony Parker?
The Bulls have a committed and determined defender in Kirk Hinrich, who is still the team's best defender on the ball. Parker is always gonna be tough to cover, but Hinrich will do a solid job if Rose doesn't have the speed--or stamina--to stick with him.
2. The Bulls seemed to be a playoff favorite after they almost upset a KG-less Celtics team in one of the best NBA playoff series I've ever watched. With Gordon now in Detroit, do the Bulls have enough to improve on last season?
It's always difficult to lose your leading scorer--especially if you don't get anything in exchange for him. It's easier to deal with, however, if that guy never stepped up on defense and never really seemed to buy into the team. Gordon may have led the Bulls in points for the last four seasons, but he never really led the Bulls. Do they have enough talent to make a deep run in the playoffs this year? I don't think so. They need a big man if they hope to make it past Cleveland, Orlando, Boston, etc. Have they put themselves in a position for that to happen in the next couple years? I say yes.
3. We saw John Salmons emerge in the playoff series with the Celtics. With Gordon's loss, what will Salmons' role be for this team?
The hope is that Salmons will be the guy he was in the playoffs last year, but with even more opportunities now that Gordon is gone. He's bigger and stronger than BG and he's a much better defender (don't take much). Few people in the league can get hot like Gordon, but if Salmons can be a consistent producer and prove that last year wasn't a fluke, he'll make getting over Gordon a lot easier. If Rose has an off night, Salmons and Hinrich are going to have to step up offensively for the Bulls to have a chance.
4. The Bulls made a very underrated offseason acquisition by picking up Jannero Pargo. What are your thoughts on his addition and does that move pave the way for Kirk Hinrich to finally be traded?
It's always nice to have a guy on your team who wants to be here. Pargo signed with Chicago despite getting longer and larger offers from other teams because he's a Chicago kid and he feels comfortable coming back to play for his hometown team again. He should get consistent minutes and is a dangerous shooter, but I don't think he's the answer when it comes to the Hinrich situation. Hinrich is far too valuable in situations like Thursday night, for instance, when D. Rose isn't at full strength. Until they bring in a legit, big-time guard to share the court with Rose, the Bulls can't afford to lose Captain Kirk.
5. I said on our season preview show for the 8th seed that some days Tyrus Thomas looks like a future all-star and some days it looks like the only chance he has to be an all-star will be with the D-League. Is this the year he finally lives up to his potential and is able to remain consistent?
Man I sure hope so. I've always been a big fan of freak athletes. There's nothing more fun than watching a guy take over a game with nothing but natural, God-given, freak-show athleticism. When Tyrus is on, he's got the energy, the length and the hops to be a real force. When he's off, he looks like a high school kid who loses track of the game when his favorite cheerleader does the splits on the sideline. He can be responsible for some brutal turnovers and his bouts of immaturity are to be expected from a rookie, not a guy heading into his fourth season. As a person, I think Ty is a great kid. All reports from preseason point to him having a breakout year; let's hope they're right.
6. The obligatory two-part question. What is the key matchup for Thursday night's game and what is your prediction?
Tim Duncan vs. whatever combination of guys we throw at him. Defending dominant big men has been a problem for the Bulls for years. With D. Rose not at 100% the Spurs win a close one.
We want to thank Sarah for devoting her time to giving us a closer look at the Bulls. If you want to read more from her, be sure to visit No Spain No Gain where you might also find pictures of a familiar face here at Project Spurs slamming jello-shots.
What are your thoughts on tonight's game? Do you have a prediction? Feel free to leave a comment and give us your take. Be sure to also come back tonight at 6:30 p.m. CST for our Spurs-Bulls live blog/chat.