Last season the Bulls and San Antonio tied for the NBA's best record, though neither team made it to the Finals.

This year the Spurs are back in the fight, battling Miami and others for the best overall record, while the Bulls are trying to survive without Derrick Rose.

In many ways, the Spurs are a perfect role model for the Bulls, right down to the last meeting between the teams.

San Antonio did the short-handed routine to perfection, winning at the United Center without Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili. There was more than enough left in the locker room, obviously.

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich took some heat early this season by choosing to rest his big three for a game in Miami. San Antonio nearly won that one, too.

Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau has heard complaints about using his main guys too much, most recently from Joakim Noah himself. Thibodeau's answer is usually along the lines of, "old guys need rest; young guys can play."

Does Popovich heed that advice? He's working with Duncan (36), Ginobili (35) and Parker (30). Parker is the only player on the team averaging more than 30 minutes per game (33.0).

In minutes per game, Kawhi Leonard is next at 29.9 per contest, while Danny Green ranks second on the team in total minutes played at 1,619.

With the Bulls, it's really two guys taking on a heavy workload — Luol Deng, 27, and Noah, who turned 28 last week. Deng leads the league in minutes per game at 39.1, while Noah is eighth (38.3).

In total minutes played, though, Deng is 16th and Noah 18th. Neither has missed many games but enough to drop in overall playing time.