Down point guard Tony Parker, who is battling a shin injury, the San Antonio Spurs visit the Bay Area on Thursday for a late national showdown against the Golden State Warriors. But first on TNT, the Chicago Bulls trek to Oklahoma City to face the rolling Thunder.
The appetizer: Bulls vs. Thunder
8 p.m. ET, TNT
On Wednesday, the Bulls showed fight against the Houston Rockets but didn't have the firepower, eventually falling 109-94. The Bulls have lost six of their last seven and face a Thunder team that's going for eight straight victories.
Will Durant remain efficient against Thibs' defense? Kevin Durant leads the NBA with a 28.6 scoring average this season, but he's doing so with great accuracy. Shooting 48.7 percent on the year is impressive, but in his last 10 outings, Durant has tallied just two games under 47 percent shooting and has five above 60 percent.
Can Chicago contain the inside or outside? The Bulls have allowed opponents to hit 38.8 percent from deep, the league's third-worst mark. The Thunder aren't too accurate from deep outside of Durant and Jeremy Lamb, so keeping Oklahoma City to contested mid-range jumpers is key. Chicago also has to protect the paint better. Wednesday against Houston, it got outscored in the paint, 66-40, though that's understandable against the Rockets with Dwight Howard and all.
Do the Bulls begin to embrace their situation? The offense clicked at times against the Rockets, but until Chicago stops being as stiff as Tom Thibodeau's shoulders, it won't be surprising anyone. Best to accept the challenge and play with a sense of urgency and freedom. Maybe a few wins will follow.
Reading material: Recapping the loss to Houston, Blog a Bull's Jason Patt saw signs of good things happening in Chicago's offense. Welcome to Loud City hits the film room to take a peek at Jeremy Lamb and the "horns pindown" play the Thunder run for him.
The main course: Spurs vs. Warriors
10:30 p.m., TNT
No Tony Parker, no problem. The Spurs dropped the pesky Phoenix Suns on Wednesday without their point guard, and on Thursday visit Golden State, which is up a player thanks to the return of forward Andre Iguodala.
Will Manu keep it up? The old man has still got it. He's coming off a season-high 24-point performance against the Suns. Without Parker, Ginobili saved his best for last, scoring 11 of the final 15 points in the final 4:11. Can he do it on a back-to-back? The Warriors don't want him and Marco Belinelli, leader of all NBA three-point shooters this season, to go all spicy meatball on them.
Can San Antonio disrupt Golden State's point of attack? Tony Parker may be gone, but the combo of Cory Joseph and Patty Mills can put intense ball pressure on Stephen Curry to break any sense of offensive rhythm for the Warriors. However, Iguodala's ability to play point forward could alleviate those woes. And Kawhi Leonard will also play a big role in getting Golden State off-kilter.
Does Golden State push the pace? Both squads like to run when the opportunity arises, but it's all the more important for the Warriors to get ahead of Duncan and Tiago Splitter. And if San Antonio goes small with Duncan at center, it's likely David Lee will take his chances in the open court against, perhaps, Boris Diaw.