|2013/2014 NBA Season|
|March 7th, 2014|
|United Center in Chicago, IL|
|6:00 PM CDT|
|Fox SportsSouth/ 92.9 FM ESPN|
|Mike Conley||PG||Kirk Hinrich|
|Courtney Lee||SG||Jimmy Butler|
|Tayshaun Prince||SF||Mike Dunleavy|
|Zach Randolph||PF||Carlos Boozer|
|Marc Gasol||C||Joakim Noah|
|2013/14 Advanced Stats|
|92.2 (30th)||Pace||93.1 (28th)|
|102.8 (18th)||OEff||98.8 (27th)|
|102.7 (11th)||DEff||98.0 (2nd)|
Knocked down? Get back up again. That's the task at hand for the Memphis Grizzlies. After being embarrassed and outclassed by the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday night, the Grizzlies find themselves matched up against the exhausting defense of the Chicago Bulls.
At the beginning of the month, I said the Grizzlies needed to finish with 51 wins if they were to make the playoffs this year, and if you do the quick math, that means they need to go 17-5 the rest of the way. Meaning every loss from here on out is going to sting, but they'll be defined by how they respond to those losses, not just because they occurred.
The Heat, the Miami Heat, the two-time defending champions Miami Heat, just got routed on the road to the Spurs. No one is jumping off any ledges there, and no one in Memphis should do so either. It's not going to be easy, but we knew that already. We're Grizzlies' fans after all.
Contain the Monster
Joakim Noah is currently playing like one of the top 10 players in the NBA. He may be unpleasant, and I probably wouldn't get along with him in real life, and yes, he has those cartoon squiggly lines for stink and dirt coming off of him at all times, but he is an absolute monster on the basketball court. He may not be flashing huge numbers in any one category outside of rebounding, but he is above average at everything, and he makes all of his teammates better. He's had two triple-doubles already this month, and stopping him will be key to a Grizzlies victory. Brooklyn limited him to 10 points, 6 rebounds, and 1 assist, and as a result the Bulls lost for the first time in their last 6 games.
The window for the playoffs is still open, but it's going to get harder to squeeze through if the Grizzlies keep losing. Memphis needs to come out desperate and hungry, fighting for every rebound, every loose ball, and every last point. There was no sense of urgency last game. From the moment the ball is tipped, the Grizzlies need to be on their grind. Forget drinking Mike's secret stuff at halftime, they need to drink and eat whatever Tony Allen does before the game and come out angry and hostile, ready to outmuscle and outman the Bulls to get the win. Rest assured, Thibs will have the Bulls ready to go. Memphis must do the same.
Seriously though, Joakim Noah
Gotta stop that guy...
The Bulls are 7-2 in their last nine games. In wins, they average 105 points. In losses, only 80. The Grizzlies are going to need to right the defensive ship. They've played mediocre defense at best over their last few games, and if they want to go on a playoff run, that can't continue. Limit the Bulls transition buckets and perimeter shots, keep the off the board and stop them from getting second chance points, that will go a long way towards winning the game.
If both teams play up to their potential, this is going to be an excruciating game. Defense is the calling card for both these teams, and both teams have tremendously talented centers. It's going to be extremely difficult to win this game, but if they do, this would be a great victory to hang your hat on and begin another run. Have to belive. They've had a 17-5 stretch already this season. Time for one more.