Who: Memphis Grizzlies at Chicago Bulls
When: Tuesday, October 9, 2012 – 7:00 pm CST
Where: United Center, Chicago, Ill.
Records: Memphis (1-0), Chicago (0-0)
Memphis opened the season with a convincing win against european powerhouse Real Madrid. However it took a big effort from the starting 5 to win the game. Rudy Gay led the Grizzlies with 27 points on an impressive 11-18 shooting exposition but his nearly 37 minutes of action has to be a bit distracting as was his single rebound. Zach Randolph put up 12 points (6-8 shooting), 6 rebounds and a surprising 6 assists in the game but both Gay and Randolph each showed some rust with 3 turnovers each. Mike Conley (18 points and 8 assists) and Marc Gasol (16 points and 16 rebounds) had solid efforts but each of them played 34 minutes or more. Memphis will likely use their bench much more in this game.
Chicago is opening their pre-season action with some major contributors missing from their starting lineup. Former Memphis Tiger Derrick Rose is out for the game recovering from ACL surgery and Joakim Noah is not likely to play while he recovers from a sprained ankle. Former UT Vol C J Watson will replace Rose but the Bulls will be short-handed in the paint with last year’s sub Omar Asik now playing in Houston. The injuries and roster moves means the Bulls will need to use the pre-season as much to get the team playing together as a group as it will be used to tune up the starting five for the season. After winning the Eastern Conference last season the Bulls face a difficult task repeating that this season.
What To Watch For:
The Grizzlies front line was playing in mid-season form against Real Madrid but even without Noah the Bulls have a formidable front line themselves. Carlos Boozer and Luol Deng will test the defensive mettle of the Grizzlies and Nazr Mohammed, likely to start in place of Noah, is an experienced big man. There is more help off the bench with Taj Gibson, a hustle player who gets more rebounds than his physical attributes suggest. If the Grizzlies big men dominate the paint Chicago will struggle to find easy baskets to keep up.
Team chemistry will be an issue for both teams but more so for Chicago.“We have a long way to go,” said Thibodeau. “We’re building habits and hopefully we’re improving every day. [Tuesday] gives us a chance to see where we are. It’s the first opportunity for us to compete as a team together. It will give us some answers and reveal some things, things we have to work on.”
Memphis’s bench should be bolstered a bit by the return of Josh Selby. Selby missed the first week of camp while recovering from an off-season sprained ankle suffered in a pick up game against Monta Ellis. The Grizzlies bench scored 26 points against Real Madrid but outside of Marreese Speights and Q Pondexter, no one showed any ability to score consistently. Jerryd Bayless, brought in to help replace O J Mayo’s scoring off the bench, needs to improve on his 1-6 shooting against Real Madrid.