The San Antonio Spurs (46-9) will conclude their Rodeo Road Trip when they face the Chicago Bulls (37-16) tonight in Chicago at the United Center.
The Spurs are coming off a win against the New Jersey Nets (102 to 85) in New Jersey where Manu Ginobili led the way with 22 points.
The Bulls are also coming off a win against the Charlotte Bobcats (106 to 94) and will be looking to maintain their home court dominance this season as they are 24-4 at the United Center.
Both teams will be looking to head into the All-Star break with a win and to discuss tonight's match up I turn to fellow Bloguinite Marco at Horns to the Hardwood. Your one and only stop on the Internet for all things Bulls.
In this Q&A, Marco talks about the Bulls flying under the radar, keys for the Bulls to beat the Spurs and more. Check out my Q&A I did for Marco by clicking HERE.
Jeff: So many focus on the Celtics, Heat and Magic. Are people sleeping on the Bulls in the East?
Marco: People definitely are, except your John Hollinger's of the world. Everyone is enamored with the Heat and the Celtics. The Heat get the attention for having 2 superstars and one good player on their team. The Celtics get the attention because they're really good, and because Boston is ESPN's child.
The Bulls sit at 37-16, two games back of the 1 seed in the East. Of those 53 games, the Bulls have only played 9 with their starting lineup in tact due to injuries to Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah. And the biggest reason teams are sleeping on the Bulls is because you really don't know how good Derrick Rose is until you see him everyday. He's really picked up the load with Noah and Boozer out for extended stretches, and will carry them deep into the post-season.
What's the latest on Joakim Noah and his injury?
Sounds like Joakim is progressing quite well. The news is that he should be back after the ASB. He's just started shooting jump shots, and has been cleared for some contact activity in practice. The Bulls have done a great job with handling the injury, considering they're playing well without him. That's the scary part for the rest of the East - what do the Bulls become when Noah returns?
How would you assess Carlos Boozer's play since joining Chicago? Likes? Dislikes?
The San Antonio Spurs (46-9) will conclude their Rodeo Road Trip when they face the Chicago Bulls (37-16) tonight in Chicago at the United Center.
• The San Antonio Spurs will face the Chicago Bulls tomorrow night to conclude their Rodeo Road Trip. It will be a huge game for both teams but don't tell that to Bulls' coach Tom Thibodeau:
“Every game's a measuring stick for us,” Thibodeau said Wednesday at the Berto Center. “We want to be consistent with our approach.” (dailyherald.com)
• Bulls' Derrick Rose weighed in on tomorrow's matchup and if it's a measuring stick for the Bulls:
“If they think that, that's great,” Rose said. “I wouldn't mind that at all. It's a measuring stick for us to see how far we've come.” (dailyherald.com)
New Orleans Hornets trade: Emeka Okafor and Jarrett Jack to the Utah Jazz; David West to the Phoenix Suns; and Trevor Ariza, Marcus Banks and Willie Green to the San Antonio Spurs.
Utah Jazz trade: Deron Williams to the New Orleans Hornets.
Phoenix Suns trade: Steve Nash to the New Orleans Hornets.
San Antonio Spurs trade: Tony Parker to the New Orleans Hornets.• Seems the Spurs were interested in acquiring Portland Trailblazers' Joel Pryzbilla:
They offered Przybilla a reported two-year, $3.35 million contract. When that expired, there were other teams interested in him, notably the soon-to-be NBA champion San Antonio Spurs, but Przybilla opted to remain loyal and reward the faith Portland originally had in him. (mndaily.com)
• Express News' Tim Griffin asks if you can name all former Spurs players who played in at least 1,000 NBA games.
Hit the jump to read if the Spurs tanked the 1997 season, about George Gervin making a landmark trip, how age is nothing but a number for the Spurs, how to win free tickets to the upcoming Spurs-Oklahoma City Thunder game, and more.
In just a few short months, San Antonio Spurs guard Gary Neal has gone from being an unknown 2010 NBA Summer League team invitee from Towson to being a regular part of Gregg Popovich's rotation.
What a difference a few months makes.
For aspiring professional athletes, opportunities are few and far between and when one comes calling, players are prepared to make whatever changes or decisions necessary to make their NBA dreams happen.
For Gary Neal, that included relocating his honeymoon to Las Vegas for a week's audition at the Thomas & Mack Center instead of a few weeks in Cabo San Lucas relaxing by the beach.
if you think the change was a drastic one for Neal, imagine how the newly-wed Leah Neal must have felt about changing her vacation plans, no doubt the contents of her Samsonite luggage.
"I got married on Saturday and my first summer league game was on Monday," Neal said recently.
But for Neal, he didn't mind making alternate travel arrangements and he said his wife didn't mind doing the same, especially considering the results his summer league performance yielded.
Cruising this season with the NBA's best record at 46-9, the San Antonio Spurs are seemingly blazing a direct path to the 2011 NBA Finals.
Sure the Spurs are riding high so far this season but the team can stand to learn from NBA history and in particular the failure that was 2007 Dallas Mavericks.
Watch the video from woai.com:
San Antonio Spurs Antonio McDyess has experienced it all in the NBA during his 14 seasons.
He has experienced the best of times such as going to the NBA finals in 2005, and being named an All-Star in 2001.
He has also experienced the worst of times like the repeated knee injuries and more importantly, not capturing an NBA championship.
Before entering this season, McDyess said this will be his final hurrah in the NBA, and barring any last minute change of mind, he is taking all the lessons learned throughout his career and imparting his wisdom to the younger players on the Spurs team.
In 2005 with the Detroit Pistons, McDyess finally tasted the NBA Finals when he faced his current team. It was a thrilling seven game series where the Spurs captured their third NBA title. The NBA title eluded McDyess once again.
Now with the Spurs having the league's best record, and with championship hopes riding high, McDyess knows to temper any premature excitement.
"It's looking good," said McDyess when asked about how his championship hopes are shaping up with the Spurs this season. "But as you know and I know, the regular season really don't mean a thing once you go to the playoffs. You can have the best record and just because you got the home stand doesn't mean like you can't lose."
This is true and the Spurs can also learn from franchise experience. In 1995 the Spurs had the NBA's best record but ran into a hot Houston Rockets team in the playoffs and title hopes quickly vanished.
Same goes for McDyess when he was with the Detroit Pistons.
As first reported earlier this month here at Project Spurs, we been keeping an eye on San Antonio Spurs' head coach Gregg Popovich and forward Tim Duncan reaching personal milestones in their NBA careers. Here were the last two updates which you can read here and here.
Here is the latest.
Popovich is currently third in the all-time list of most coaching wins with one team with 782 victories. In first place is former Utah Jazz coach Jerry Sloan with 1,127 wins and in second place is Boston Celtics' former coach Red Auerbach who has 795 wins. Popovich needs 14 more wins to move into second place.
Duncan is currently 11th on the all-time NBA career blocked shots list with 2,345 blocks. With 12 more blocks, he will move into the top ten surpassing former NBA player Alonzo Mourning who registered 2,356 blocks.
• The San Antonio Spurs will conclude their Rodeo Road Trip in Chicago when they face the Bulls this Thursday night. The Bulls have been without star Joakim Noah due to injury but could he be returning to action versus the Spurs?
Asked if he will lobby the Bulls to come back Thursday when they host San Antonio for the last game before the break, Noah paused for a few seconds, then chose his words carefully.
“We’ll see how it feels,” he said. “I’m just taking it day by day. I’m just trying to get better and improve.” (dailyherald.com)
• Last night the Spurs defeated the New Jersey Nets and Spurs' Richard Jefferson, who used to play for the Nets, had this to say about his former team:
“One of the things with the group that I came with, we took a lot of pride in turning around the franchise,” the Spurs forward said before the Spurs 102-85 victory at the Prudential Center. “Even it was a defensive championship or making the playoffs every year, we all took that as a step in the right direction of making this an elite franchise.
“So, obviously, their struggles hurt.” (nydailynews.com)
• Check out this chart-of-the-day from Business Insider on the Spurs and their chances at reaching 70 wins this season:
Currently, the Spurs are just one game off the pace to finish 70-12 (below). In order to reach 70 wins, they will need to go 24-3 over the final 27 games. The Spurs did start the season 25-3, so they are capable. But with a 7.5-game lead in the Western Conference, you can be certain that Gregg Popovich will get his star players rest down the stretch. Still, if the Spurs are in reach the final week, history may be too tempting.
• Hoopism.com gives the greatest shots in NBA history and their location on the court. Find out which Spurs made the list.
Hit the jump to read what former Spurs' players George Gervin and Danny Ferry had to say about traveling on the road, Popovich on the Spurs' record, Tony Parker hosting a party in Las Vegas, how to win free tickets to the Spurs-Oklahoma City Thunder game this month, and more.
Let’s say you have three MVP candidates: Kobe Byrant, Kevin Durant and Manu Ginobili. Now let’s say the teams coach has decided to bring each player off the bench. How do the fans react?
Typical Laker fan: “What! What’s going on with Phil? Huh? Bench Kobe! Who does he think he is? The Mamba is our team!”
Typical Thunder fan: “Why would coach Brooks bench KD? We’re going to fall behind! We’re going to dig ourselves a hole early and need Durant to bring us back! Oh no!”
Typical Spurs fan: “OK”
Of course in reality, that will never happen. But, it does show you hypothetically where the San Antonio Spurs as a franchise stand with their fan base. The Spurs fans and team are almost invincibly linked. This was evident on Saturday night against the Washington Wizards. Before the game, word came out that Coach Popovich had decided to bench “MVP candidate” Manu Ginobili for “sixth man of the year candidate” George Hill. The move didn’t really create much of a ruckus in Spurs land. Why? Because Spurs fans have faith and trust in the organization that leads their team, it’s that simple. If Coach Pop felt Manu needed to come off the bench, then Spurs land said “OK.”
By the way, it’s Views From The Couch! Volume 11. Let’s go!
Hit the "read more" button to find out if Manu may need rest? What happened in Philly? Is the defense finding its identity? And as always, all your comical commentary from the past week!
Many were shocked to hear the news of Jerry Sloan's resignation as head coach of the Utah Jazz last week, especially after signing an extension with the Jazz.
After 22 full seasons and well into his 23rd with the Jazz, the announcement came as a surprise to many. Even Jazz great Karl Malone sounded off on Sloan's resignation saying his former coach would never quit.
There are even reports that Sloan's riff with point guard Deron Williams and a belief he became undermined with Jazz ownership were the main reasons for his departure.
Last week in Philadelphia I spoke to San Antonio Spurs players Antonio McDyess and Richard Jefferson to get their views on Sloan's resignation. Here is what they had to say.
McDyess on Sloan:
"He's one of my favorite coaches and to see him resign definitely was eye-opening and a surprise to me. Jerry Sloan definitely a legend in this league as a coach and as a person. Just to see him step down was sad to see. I'm sure he has something in store and hopefully it will work out for him."
Jefferson says Deron Williams is not to blame:
"I was shocked. I was even more shocked to hear that they were actually trying to blame a player," Jefferson said.
"There's no one player that's going to run out a coach. I think sometimes a coach looks at a situation and just feels like he's ready to move on. To say that in 26 years that Deron Williams is the first player, I think that's just disrespectful to both sides. To say that about Deron, and to say that about their coach, to say now (Sloan) can't handle that."
"Like they say, Karl Malone was no angel when he was walking around Utah. They had ups and downs, they had losing streaks. They had years where they struggled, the situation with Carlos Boozer. There has been a lot of things that had gone on over the course of his 26 years (sic) there. So now to say him and Deron weren't getting along and that's why the coach left, I think that's a bad, bad excuse."
Jefferson on how Sloan left the game:
"It's not up to us to determine how we feel how he should go out," continued Jefferson.
"If he decides to go out before the playoffs for health reasons, if he wants to take a leave, whatever it is, it's not for the media, it's not for the players to determine. If he felt like right now is the time where his passion wasn't in it, then who are we to judge."
Jefferson went on to say, "This man has committed more time than any coach in professional sports has. To say he needed a certain way to go out, he has earned the right to go out however he wants. It's very similar to Brett Favre. A lot of people felt Brett Favre should have retired but if he felt like he could play more, then it's his decision. He has earned that right."
Those are the thoughts of two Spurs players on Sloan's resignation. Share your thoughts on the topic and how McDyess and Jefferson reacted in the comments below.
Here is some locker room material for the San Antonio Spurs' bench courtesy of Dallas Mavericks' guard Jason Terry.
Terry is convinced that the Mavericks' bench is "second to none,'' but he doesn't feel the reserves get the credit that they are due.
"When we get to the Finals and win it all, then everybody will realize what we mean to this team,'' he said. (SportsDayDFW)
The Mavericks are second in the Southwest Division to the Spurs with a record of 38-16 to the Spurs' NBA leading record 46-9 and the Spurs' bench has a lot to do with that.
Looking at the Spurs' main players off the bench you have Gary Neal who averages 8.7 points, George Hill at 11.2 points, Matt Bonner with 7.4 points, Antonio McDyess with 5.1 points and 5.2 rebounds. Let's not forget, Manu Ginobili and his 17.9 points per game is perfectly fine coming off the bench if need be.
Granted Terry is averaging 15.9 points off the bench for Dallas and making a strong case for Sixth Man of the Year but the Mavericks will need more than just him coming off the bench if they want to make it to the Finals.
However, I say let him yap all he wants.
The Spurs dismissed the Mavericks from the playoffs last season and I'm sure should these two teams meet yet again, history will repeat itself. Hopefully the Spurs' bench will have a lot to do with that dismissal.