Who: Memphis Grizzlies vs Chicago Bulls
When: Saturday, January 19th, 7:00 PM CST
Where: United Center, Chicago, IL
Records: Memphis (25-13), Chicago (23-15)
Media: Sportsouth, 92.9 FM, 680 AM
Forums: 3 Shades of Blue, Grizzlies Message Boards
Memphis broke the streak of L’s, limiting it to three, with a win last night against Sacramento. It was a much needed victory for a Grizzlies team that has been roughed up and mentally down of late. They pulled off the win without their rock in the paint, Zach Randolph, who’s nursing a strained lower back that he sustained in the game in San Antonio. According to the CA, he will try to give it a go tonight, but watching him on the bench yesterday, he appeared to be in some pain. In his absence the team was a bit off track, but the guys did a good job of moving the ball. To little surprise, Tony Allen stood out as the lead grinder for the Grizz, and the team played spectacular defense, giving up a mere 69 points.
Chicago is coming into this one on the heels of an overtime game winner off the hands of Marco Belinelli. It was actually their second straight overtime victory, as they surged over the Raptors in the fifth period on Wednesday. The Grizzlies laid an egg in Dallas last week, the day after a big overtime victory against the Spurs, so I would not be surprised if the Bulls were to come out a bit flat, tonight. An out of conference game after a night like that is not the most inspiring matchup. To add to it, star swingman, Luol Deng is nursing a sore hamstring that he aggravated last night, and probably won’t play in this one. The Bulls are a lot like the Grizzlies in terms of pace and style, so anyone not in the mood for a low scoring, slug-it-out, grit n’ grind game, should probably look elsewhere tonight.
Expected Starting Lineups:
Mike Conley vs Kirk Hinrich:
The last time these two squared off, Hinrich went 0-4 from beyond the arc, and only racked up four assists. The same can be said for Conley’s assist total in that game, but he managed to post 17 points in the process, with only two turnovers, to Hinrich’s four. Hinrich is a very good player, but Conley seems a bit too quick for him nowadays.
Tony Allen vs Richard Hamilton:
Richard Hamilton has returned for the Bulls after missing some time with an injury and has done an excellent job since re-entering the lineup. Hamilton is one of the premier guys in the league when it comes to moving without the ball, and is still a machine in the midrange game. Tony Allen went all out in the last one and his knees aren’t what they used to be, so it’s hard to say what he’ll have left in the tank to chase Rip around.
Rudy Gay vs Jimmy Butler:
If I had to guess, I would say Jimmy Butler would get the start in place of the hampered Deng. Butler hasn’t quite made the jump that Bulls fans expected this year, but that’s not to say he’s been all that bad either. He is a pretty good, lengthy role player, that plays above average defense. Rudy has a definite talent advantage over Butler, and is due for a big game, as he’s only to eclipsed 20 points twice in 2013. Note, it is also possible however, that aware of the Grizzlies lack of small forward depth, the Bulls start Belinelli alongside Rip Hamilton. Regardless, if Deng’s a definite no-go, Rudy will have either a decided size or talent advantage, and will need to exploit it if the Grizzlies want to win tonight.
Zach Randolph vs Carlos Boozer:
*Matchup of the night* – Under normal circumstances I would give the edge in this matchup to the Grizzlies, but there are too many factors pointing in the opposing direction tonight. Namely, whether or not Zach is actually ready to go at game time, how strong he is if he does in fact play with a bad back, and lastly, the fact that Carlos Boozer has been on an absolute tear to start the new year. Last night he had a very Zbo-like line of 19 points and 20 boards, but that’s been more the norm than the exception for him lately, as he’s been averaging 23.4 points and nearly 12 boards a game in January, thus far.
Marc Gasol vs Joakim Noah:
Joakim Noah is one of those matchups that I simply don’t like for Marc on the second night of a back-to-back. He’s long enough to deal with Marc’s length, has a wide enough base to absorb Marc’s contact, and incredibly energetic. He and Boozer form a darn good frontline, so this is one of those games that you’d love to have had the Grizzlies frontline at full strength heading into.
Both sides are a bit dinged up, but at least the Bulls were pretty deep to begin with. The Grizzlies rotation was extremely shallow against the Kings, as Coach Hollins limited the bench production to just three men last night. On the first half of a back to back, you would generally like to go a little bit deeper into the bench and get the starters some good rest, but the fact of the matter is that there just aren’t enough reliable players to rotate in at this time. The Bulls might not dig so deep into their bench tonight, either, with only Nate Robinson, Belinelli/Butler (depending which one starts), and Taj Gibson as locks for minutes, but those are nearly guaranteed locks for productivity. The Grizz still don’t know what they’re going to get out of Bayless or Ellington on a given night.
By the Horns