Grizzlies-Bulls Preview

Memphis Grizzlies Status Check:
Record: 25-13
Division: 4-4
Conference: 15-10
Road Record: 10-8
Last 10 Games: 6-4
Streak: Won 1
Last game: 85-69 win over Kings
PPG: 93.4 (26th)
Opponents PPG: 89.8 (2nd)
Offensive Rating: 104.0 (16th)
Defensive Rating: 99.9 (2nd)
Pace: 89.1 (28th)
Effective Field Goal Percentage: .463 (26th)
Turnover Percentage: .139 (16th)
Defensive Rebound Percentage: .736 (12th)
Offensive Rebound Percentage: .319 (2nd)
Free Throws Per Field Goal Attempt: .207 (13th)
Opp. eFG%: .477 (8th)
Opp. TO%: .156 (2nd)
Opp. FT/FGA: .202 (15th)
Leading scorer: Rudy Gay (17.6)

Stats from Basketball-Reference

Grizzlies Injury Report:
Quincy Pondexter: out (sprained knee)
Zach Randolph: missed Friday’s game (strained lower back)

The Bulls and Grizzlies square off in what is sure to be a high-scoring affair, just like the last time they met. And by high-scoring, I mean a lot of points for a high school game. One of the teams will probably hit 80 points.

It doesn’t help the Bulls offensive chances that they are tired from last night’s overtime win and that Luol Deng will probably be on the sidelines because he reinjured a hamstring injury against the Celtics.

In two surprising moments, Kirk Hinrich hit a shot that sent the game into overtime, and Marco Belinelli hit the game-winner with three seconds left in the extra period. These two made baskets were only surprising because of the fact that Hinrich actually made a jumper and Belinelli didn’t get the ball stripped before getting the shot up, not the timing and importance of the baskets (OK fine, they were both clutch).

It’ll probably be Kirk and Marco that get remembered after the game as the heroes, but the one guy who is already being forgotten is Jimmy Butler. His stats don’t blow you away (13 points, 4 rebounds), but he filled in after Deng left with his injury and hit some big shots. He was also the only guy hitting foul shots down the stretch (4-4).

Carlos Boozer (19 points, 20 rebounds) and Joakim Noah (14 points, 13 rebounds) both chipped in double-doubles and Rip Hamilton scored 20 points in some extended minutes.

For all that good, there were some glaring issues. Rajon Rondo killed the Bulls in transition, when Chicago failed to stop the ball on multiple occasions. Rondo finished with 30 points, the second time he recorded a season-high in points against the Bulls this season.

Memphis is right in the middle of the league when it comes to fastbreak points—averaging 13.2 per contest—and they have their own point guard that could cause some havoc in Mike Conley. The Bulls can’t allow the point guard, or any ball handler, to drive straight to the rim on a fastbreak. They need to cut the ball of and force a pass.

Boston scored 14 fastbreak points, only one more than their average, but it was the ease that many of them came that was the problem. The parting of the seas occurred a few times and even though Rondo isn’t seen as much of a scorer, he can finish around the rim just like any NBA player (with the exception of Ronnie Brewer). Failing to cut off the ball handler is a simple rule in transition defense.

The half-court defense was great with the exception of slowing Rondo. Kevin Garnett (5-16) and Paul Pierce (5-17) both struggled to score, and finished with 16 and 13 points respectively.

What kept the Celtics in the game was that the Bulls had 21 turnovers against a Boston team that normally forces 15.7. However, the Celtics couldn’t convert off Chicago’s mishaps, scoring just seven points off of the giveaways. The Bulls scored 16 points off 12 Boston turnovers.

Memphis is also coming off of a Friday night win; theirs was a little more convincing though. The Grizzlies allowed just 69 points to Sacramento, who shot 34.1 percent from the field and had 17 turnovers.

The absence of Zach Randolph was no problem for the Griz last night, but their starters did have to log heavy minutes. Rudy Gay (41 minutes) logged Luol Deng-type minutes. Marc Gasol, Mike Conley and Tony Allen all played 37 minutes.

Noah led the Bulls with 45 minutes played, with Boozer close behind (43).

The Bulls are 4-4 on the second night of back-to-backs, while Memphis is 3-4. Chicago will probably be without Deng, but Randolph is going to give it a go for the Griz. Randolph scored 10 points on 4-14 shooting December 17 against the Bulls. He also grabbed a game-high 15 boards.

Deng struggled, as did most guys on offense, finishing 4-17 from the field for eleven points. Both teams shot 37 percent as Conley (17 points) and Boozer (16) led the way. Memphis is second in both defensive rating and opponent points per game and the Bulls are fifth (defensive rating) and third (opponent points) in those categories. Both squads’ middle-of-the-road offenses, especially the Bulls without Deng, are going to struggle to find the basket.

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