Happy New Years all. I hope everybody had a fun time last night. I don't want to speak too soon, but I'd like to point out that the world hasn't ended yet. Personally, I've never understood the whole "world's going to end this year" thing. I mean, it's
2011 2012 and the meteorologists still can't correctly predict the weather a week in advance. How could a civilization accurately predict the end of the world thousands of years ago? Anyway, the world hasn't ended, and I'm going to continue to write game previews, recaps, etc. with the assumption that the world will, in fact, go on for a while longer at least.
As for our Grizzlies, tonight they'll be up against the Chicago Bulls. Last season's Bulls relied on a strong defense and everybody getting out of reigning MVP Derrick Rose's way on offense. Oddly enough, Chicago is currently 2nd in the league in offensive rating, but only 15th in defensive rating. This doesn't mean much--4 games is too small of a sample size to tell us anything--but I thought it was kind of funny. Regardless of what the stats say, the Bulls are one of the toughest defensive teams in the league, and if the Grizzlies want to have any chance of winning tonight, they'll need to execute perfectly. However, the Grizzlies are coming off a good showing against the Rockets. If Memphis can play as well, they'll have a good shot at winning. Also, it wouldn't hurt if any of the Bulls partied too hard last night and were hungover today. After the jump, we'll looking at some keys for the game.
Memphis Grizzlies (1-2) at Chicago Bulls (3-1)
8:00 P.M. ET
1. How will we deal with Derrick Rose? Mike Conley is still out with a sprained ankle, but frankly, it doesn't matter much, because no one can really guard Rose. In Conley's absence, Jeremy Pargo has played well, scoring 14 points on Sunday against Houston. Can Pargo continue this level of play? Defensively, we might be best served moving Tony Allen onto Rose and having Pargo and his back-up, Josh Selby, chase Rip Hamiliton around. However, here's my line of thinking--last year the Bulls often struggled on offense because no one outside of Rose could score reliably. What I'd be more inclined to do is leave Pargo/Selby on Rose and instead focus on shutting down his teammates. Derrick Rose is going to get his regardless, so you may as well just let him, but when his teammates struggle, Chicago struggles.
2. Frontcourt offense: In the win over Houston, Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph combined for 43 points on 17-22 shooting to go along with 17 rebounds. I know I say this a lot, but when the Grizzlies frontcourt dominates, we almost always win. Joakim Noah, Taj Gibson, and Omer Asik are solid defenders. However, Carlos Boozer is an abysmal defender. That means that Zach and Marc need to go right at him. As far as I'm concerned, the Grizzlies ought to dump the ball to whomever is being guarded by Boozer on every possession. I'll admit that I'm biased because I genuinely dislike him, but we really need to expose him for the crap that he is.
3. Rudy Gay: Rudy struggled in his last outing, but, overall he's had a strong start to the season. Early into the season, he's having trouble finding the basket (reflected in his .396 field goal percentage heading into this match-up), but his floor game has been nothing short of fantastic. Rudy's been rebounding at a high rate and his defense has significantly improved. The Bulls are one of the toughest outs in the league, and we could really use a monster game from Rudy. Unfortunately, he'll be checked by Luol Deng, one of the best perimeter defenders in the NBA. If Rudy can score efficiently while checking Deng, it will go a long way towards securing a victory.