Watch as the Bulls take on the Spurs tonight on CSN and streaming live on CSNChicago.com, the only place where you can get the hometown call from Neil and Stacey.
Coverage begins at 8 p.m. with Bulls Pregame Live. Then stick around after the final buzzer to watch Bulls Postgame Live for highlights and analysis.
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FIVE THINGS TO WATCH
1. Attempting to end perfection. The Spurs have been absolutely electric outside of San Antonio this season, winning each of their first 13 road games to begin the year. That's the second longest streak in NBA history, and the Bulls have actually lost two of three at home. The Bulls will be home underdogs as the Spurs look to make it 14 in a row. The good news is the Bulls have defeated the Spurs at home each of the last two seasons.
2. Battle of the two-way studs. There's a real argument to be made that Thursday's matchup will tout the two best two-way players in the NBA. Kawhi Leonard, the two-time reigning Defensive Player of the Year, is having his best offensive season to date, averaging 24.5 points on 46 percent shooting, 1.9 triples, and averaging nearly 91 percent from the free-throw line. Expect Jimmy Butler and Leonard to be on each other's rear most of the night in what should be one of the most fun 1-on-1 matchups in the NBA.
3. Questions at the point. For the Spurs, Tony Parker is questionable to play with a knee injury. If he can't go, it would be Nico Laprovittola and Patty Mills running the point. For the Bulls, Rajon Rondo is coming off a pair of ugly performances in Bulls' losses to the Mavericks and Pistons (and his suspension against the Blazers). Someone needs to step up at the point, and it could decide Thursday night's winner.
4. Pau returns to the UC. Though it didn't result in much success, Pau Gasol enjoyed two highly successful seasons in Chicago. The stat-stuffer was named an All-Star in both seasons, averaging 17.6 points, 11.4 rebounds and 3.4 assists in 150 games. He's now in San Antonio, filling Tim Duncan's role in the starting lineup. And though his numvers are down from a year ago, he's still capable of putting up numbers, especially against a Bulls' interior that has struggled of late.
5. Getting Doug McDermott back. Dougie McBuckets has been activated to the Bulls roster, and not a moment too soon. Since McDermott suffered a concussion on Nov. 12, the Bulls bench ranks 26th in 3-pointers per game (2.5) and 30th in 3-point field-goal percentage (23.5 percent). Getting McDermott back, even in a small role as he gets his legs under him, will be a major factor against a Spurs team whose offense continues to heat up in December.
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Yoan Moncada and Jose Abreu are back together.
The two Cuban natives were teammates in 2012 when they played for Cienfuegos in Cuba, and now they'll be in the same dugout once again — this time in Chicago.
"To get the opportunity to play with him right now in the United States, it's an honor for me," Moncada said through a translator on a conference call Wednesday. "I'm thrilled with that."
Moncada said Abreu sent him a congratulatory text following the blockbuster trade, welcoming him to Chicago.
"He welcomed me to the White Sox organization," Moncada said. "We were talking a little bit about this opportunity for both of us to play again."
As the White Sox enter full rebuild mode, no player is considered untouchable. But the White Sox may decide to hang on to Abreu, who could serve as a mentor for Moncada.
It also helps that the White Sox have a Latino manager in Rick Renteria, making it easier to communicate.
"I think it is very good for me and for everybody," Moncada said. "I can reconnect with Abreu again and he's a person who is going to give me some advice. He will be like a tutor for me.
"To have a Latino manager is something I think will be very good, too, because we can communicate in the same language. I feel good that I'm going to play with Abreu and have a Latino manager. But that doesn't change anything for me. My biggest thing is to play and be the best player I can be."
Moncada got his first taste of big league action at the end of the 2016 season. He made his MLB debut on Sept. 3 to help the Boston Red Sox with their playoff push.
Despite only playing in eight major-league games — going 4-for-19 with an RBI and three runs — Moncada understands what it takes to play in The Show.
"I learned that you have to be open to making adjustments because this is the best baseball in the world and you're going to face the best of the best," Moncada said. "You have to be open to get some advice and to apply it. That was the most important thing that I learned in my time in the majors."
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White Sox general manager Rick Hahn said that the 21-year-old will begin his White Sox tenure in the minors at second base.
But Moncada, who has experience at third base and outfield, said he's willing to play any position the team needs him to.
"Everybody knows that I played at second with Boston and third base, too," Moncada said. "But like I said, any position the team needs to play I am willing to play that position, of course. I have to practice and feel comfortable at that position first. My priority is to help the team."
The future is looking quite bright for the White Sox. And after Wednesday's trade, it looks even brighter.