The San Antonio Spurs (3-2) will be returning to their home at the AT&T Center to face off against the Chicago Bulls (3-2). The Spurs’ three-game winning streak was brought to a halt by their loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves Wednesday night.
It was announced by the team that both will still be out for tonight’s game. Some attribute the 12-point deficit to the absence of key players Devin Vassell and Josh Primo.
Josh Primo (left glute), Devin Vassell (left knee), Barlow (G-League), and Bassey (G-League) are OUT Friday vs the Bulls per latest injury report turned into NBA
— Paul Garcia (@PaulGarciaNBA) October 28, 2022
The Devin Vassell Impact
Devin Vassell has had a pretty impressive start to his season. He has taken ownership as one of the team’s overall leading scorers along with Keldon Johnson.
Currently averaging seven more points than last season’s 19.8 points per game. Vassell has managed 20-plus point games in his last three appearances against the Pacers, 76ers, and Timberwolves. On top of his elevated scoring, he is averaging five rebounds and four assists.
Vassell will not be able to help the team tonight as he still is sidelined from his sore knee. However, he will be cheering on his teammates and helping along the sidelines.
Vassell and Primo’s absence doesn’t leave the team completely barren of shooters. Keldon Johnson is shooting 44.9% from the field while averaging five rebounds and three assists.
Keldon Johnson this season:
40% from 3 (on 8 per game)
It's early but I'm buying since he is following a year to year trajectory and we know how well the Spurs can develop players.
More on @ringer: https://t.co/8pJ0Bs1YWG pic.twitter.com/isRg0p9c3X
— Kevin O'Connor (@KevinOConnorNBA) October 27, 2022
Rim protector Jakob Poeltl has acquired three double-double games under his belt. Poeltl is averaging 14.8 points per game, 10 rebounds, and shooting 60% from the field.
Josh Richardson is usually coming off the bench with clutch shot contributions, however, due to the injury report ended up starting against the Wolves and contributing 11 points, three rebounds, and 10 assists.
Blake Wesley and Malaki Branham Get The Call Back To San Antonio
In less than 24 hours of rookies Blake Wesley and Malaki Branham being called to the Spurs G-League team in Austin, they have been summoned back to San Antonio.
Spurs have recalled rookies Malaki Branham and Blake Wesley from the Austin Spurs #porvida #nba
— JeffGSpursKENS5 (@JeffGSpursZone) October 27, 2022
They will be playing alongside fellow rookie teammate Jeremy Sochan. Sochan, being a consistent starter, has touched the ball more than his recently drafted counterparts.
Fans are hoping to gain a more complex understanding of their game considering they haven’t been called to action since the preseason.
Sochan Making Waves
On the other “So-Hand”, Jeremy has been making a name for himself with some memorable moments in his last two performances against the Timberwolves.
Spurs F Jeremy Sochan says the Chicago Bulls have gotten off to a good start. He said the team needs to come in with really good defensive, push the pace really well, and work together tonight.#BullsNation #PorVida pic.twitter.com/KlIvE9iDeX
— Carolina Teague (@carolinateague_) October 28, 2022
Fans have seen more confidence from him resulting in some poster-worthy ally-ops and blocks against notable bigs like Rudy Gobert. Pair that with his willingness and growing ability to guard all positions, and he may be on the verge of a breakout rookie season.
The Chicago Bulls
DeMar DeRozan has touched down in the south after being with the Chicago Bulls for a little over a year after his trade from the San Antonio Spurs in August 2021. He’s accompanied by shooting guard Zach Lavine, but according to Sports Illustrated, he has been ruled questionable for this San Antonio showdown.
LaVine was limited to 67 games this season and is managing a left knee injury he got when landing badly in a matchup against Golden State back in January. He put up an early season high of 28 points against the Indiana Pacers Wednesday night, so if he is absent tonight that could take a hit on the Bull’s offense.
The Bulls are coming off back-to-back wins against the Celtics and Pacers. Let’s take a look at some of the matchups we will see tonight below.
Spurs Bulls Matchups
Here are some of the matchups I will be keeping a close eye on as the game progresses.
Jakob Poeltl and Nikola Vucevic will be battling it out in the paint. Jakob Poetl is coming off a double-double tallying 12 points and 10 rebounds. Vucevic is coming off of a 14-point performance recording seven rebounds and four assists.
I am also interested in observing how guard Tre Jones maneuvers around a larger Ayo Dosunmu. Keldon Johnson will likely get the gift of guarding his former teammate DeMar DeRozan at the three.
This match-up could be the battle of the bench for both teams. Both are equipped with solid starting lineups, but the rotation may decide who can pull through at the end.
The Bulls and the Spurs have acquired extensive leads that dwindled in the 3rd quarter before. I am looking to see who will maintain aggression on offense, minimal turnovers, and turn up the pressure defense after halftime.