San Antonio Spurs (1-0 SU, 1-0 ATS) vs. Chicago Bulls (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS), 8:00 p.m. EST, Thursday, October 29, 2009, United Center, Chicago, Ill. TV: TNT
by Ryno of Predictem.com
Point Spread: Spurs -3.5/Bulls +3.5
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The San Antonio Spurs opened up their season with a 113-96 home victory over the New Orleans Hornets on Wednesday. From San Antonio, they fly to Chicago to face the Chicago Bulls in their season opener at the United Center.
The Spurs were in control all night, leading by six after the first quarter after holding the Hornets to 13 points, and then leading by 12 at the half and after the third quarter. Gregg Popovich spread out the minutes for the Spurs, as no player even played 30 minutes. Matt Bonner played the most minutes with 29, and 10 different players played at least 18 minutes. Tony Parker led the team in scoring with 17 points to go along with six assists. Manu Ginobili had 16 points off the bench. Tim Duncan only scored nine points but he did grab 12 rebounds. DeJuan Blair has been a pleasant surprise for the Spurs throughout the preseason and now into the regular season. Blair came off the bench and had 14 points and 11 rebounds.
The Spurs outrebounded the Hornets, 42-33. They had 29 assists and 10 turnovers. They shot 52.3 percent from the field and 9-for-24 from 3-point range. It was a complete effort by the Spurs to open the season.
The Bulls have a fairly young team that is looking to improve upon its impressive first round playoff performance last year against the Celtics. Derrick Rose is the reigning Rookie of the Year. Rose is an all-around point guard. He has size, athleticism, great basketball IQ and the ability to score from anywhere on the court. John Salmons emerged last season as the second scoring option for the Bulls. Salmons is not a very quick player, but he has good size and strength (6-foot-6, 207 pounds), and he is a good mid-range shooter. Luol Deng was injured for much of last year but he is back and ready to contribute once again. The problems for the Bulls have been down low and they still haven’t done much to address that issue. Brad Miller, Joakim Noah and Tyrus Thomas are all decent players, but none of them are imposing low post threats. Kirk Hinrich has been with the Bulls for his whole career and is a solid shooter and ball-handler. Jannero Pargo was signed in the offseason to add more depth to the backcourt. Pargo is another player who can play either guard position. James Johnson was drafted this year to add depth to the frontcourt. He is a bulky combo forward with good athleticism and a solid all-around game.
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Despite being weak down low offensively, the Bulls can compensate a bit defensively. Noah, Miller and Thomas are all solid defensively and work hard to defend opposing big men. Still, Duncan and Blair should be able to put up decent numbers against the Bulls. Richard Jefferson should matchup fairly evenly with Luol Deng, as should Parker with Rose, which will be the key matchup of the game. But the difference will be down low where the Spurs will be able to score more points than the Bulls. For the Bulls to win, Rose, Salmons and Deng will all have to shoot well and play solid defense. At least two of those three have to outperform the player they are matched up with. The toughest matchup will be Salmons against Michael Finley and Ginobili. If Salmons put up 15-20 points and hold Finley and Ginobili to less than 20 points combined, that will give the Bulls a boost.
Ryno’s Pick: This will be a good matchup early in the season. The Spurs played great in their win over the Hornets. And the Bulls are coming off a good end to their season when they played so well against the Celtics in the playoffs. This game will sort of be one of the best young teams against one of the best old teams. But here is a key trend that will decide the outcome: Last season, teams that won a home game by at least 10 points and then played a road game the next day as a favorite were 14-6 ATS and 16-4 SU. Take the Spurs -3.5.