GAME: Memphis Grizzlies at Chicago Bulls
Time: 7:00 pm CST
PLACE: United Center, Chicago, IL
Records: Memphis (1-2), Chicago (3-1)
Expected Starting Lineups:
Memphis – Jeremy Pargo, Tony Allen, Rudy Gay, Zach Randolph, Marc Gasol
Chicago – Derrick Rose, Rip Hamilton, Luol Deng, Carlos Boozer, Joakim Noah
The Grizzlies are riding high after their first victory of the season, a comfortable home win over their longtime nemesis from Houston on Friday night. The Grizzlies were able to finally get one in the left-hand column by going back to what made them successful through the latter part of last season and into the postseason. They played gritty defense and got their post players involved very early in the game. In fact, even though Zach Randolph led all scorers, it was his stifling defense that head coach Lionel Hollins wanted to discuss after the game, saying it was the best he’d ever seen the big man play since he arrived in Memphis. Marc Gasol also had a good game, scoring 20 points efficiently on 6-8 shooting from the floor and 8-9 from the charity stripe while blocking 5 shots. The frontcourt of Randolph, Gasol and Gay combined for 25 rebounds as well.
New starting PG Jeremy Pargo, who has been an absolute revelation since coming in for Mike Conley two games ago, got in early foul trouble against Kyle Lowry, which meant that the keys were turned over to young rookie, Josh Selby. “Showtime” did not back down for an instant, and wound up leading the team in assists with 7 against only 1 turnover to go along with 9 points. Pargo was able to come back and tally 14 points and 5 assists on the night while continuing to play the kind of relentless defense that the fans have come to love.
Grizz fans will also be eager to welcome back Hamed Haddadi, who re-signed with the team yesterday after finally resolving his visa issues.
Chicago is coming off a win in Los Angeles against the nouveau riche Clippers that saw all five starters reach double digits in scoring. They were led by reigning MVP Derrick Rose who posted an impressive stat line of 29 points, 16 assists, 8 rebounds and 1 steal. Joakim Noah and Luol Deng both scored 19 in the contest.
What’s interesting to note is that Chicago did not really appear to be the better defensive team in this contest based solely on stats, as the Clippers had a higher FG%, 3PT,and more steals and blocks. However, as is often the case, it was free throws which spelled doom for the losing squad. The Bulls hit 29 of 34, while the Clips only made 12 of their 20 attempts. That difference was enough to result in a 3 point win for the visitors.
For Memphis to win this game, they will have to continue to do what they’ve been doing since the 4th quarter of their second game against OKC — Grit & Grind. They will need to get up in the face of the Bulls’ players on every single possession and not back down. The Bulls are a gritty team in their own right, taking on the persona of their defensive-minded coach, Tom Thibodeau. That means the Grizzlies will need to pound the ball inside and make smart decisions with the ball. They need to continue to play team basketball.
The Bulls will need to follow a similar blueprint of playing smart basketball, although it will be Rose that they look to as their catalyst, rather than their frontcourt. The Grizzlies will look to limit him with the bulldog-like tenacity of Pargo and Selby, but all they can really hope to do is slow him down because he is simply too good to be shut down completely. They will look to keep the Grizzlies’ talented trio of frontcourt players in check as much as possible while trying to get some scoring from their bench.
Prediction – Chicago wins a fairly close one.