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Marc needs to shoulder a load against the Bulls to get the Grizzlies on track

Enough with the ruse, the Grizzlies need to bite hard against the Bulls.

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David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

Which personality will we see from the Memphis Grizzlies in Chicago tonight? Typically, against higher level teams like the Bulls, Memphis will show up with some sincere focus. But fans will have reason to doubt a strong showing when they look at the injury report for Chicago and see that Jimmy Butler and Derrick Rose aren't available. If that seems a little backwards, then welcome to our reality as fans. The Grizzlies find the rationale to take their foot off the gas pedal, especially when their opponents' top-level athletes aren't active.

Recently for Memphis

Schisms. Not within the team itself, although the performances on the court might suggest otherwise, but amongst the fan base and media contingent that covers the Grizzlies. Starting Tony vs. Jeff, or Jeff's fault vs. Marc/Mike's fault. There's a lot of discussion brewing around Mike Conley, mostly due to his game's decline over the past month, during which he's been visibly limited with physical ailment. Jon Leuer has to help the man get off the bench for God's sake!

What's been particularly frustrating for me, as a fan, is that the Grizzlies have been getting a lot of beneficial nights from the officiating. Memphis has gotten to the line and taken 79 SEVENTY-NINE free throws over their last three contests. That's nearly 3X as many as their opponents' 27 attempts at the foul line in those same three games. You would think that that kind of advantage in free points would lead to easy wins, and that hasn't been further from the truth.

Recently for the Bulls

Chicago has had their own struggles as of late, facing the perennial injury bug that's infested their roster. Much like the Grizzlies, they've had trouble scoring the ball, as they're averaging 93.6 PPG over their last eight. But Pau Gasol has been rockin' 20/12 over his last four games, and our old buddy Nikola Mirotic continues on his rookie rampage, getting to the line an average of 10 times a game so far in March. Mirotic hasn't made a 3-pointer in his last two games, so naturally the "Memphis dread" in me envisions him making at least six tonight.

What to watch for tonight

Just stopping by. The home game for the Bulls is hardly a home game when you consider that they've been on the road since last Thursday, are coming off a back-to-back in San Antonio, and head out for another 3-game road trip tomorrow. The fans will be there, but it'll be interesting to see how engaged the Bulls are -- although you know Thibs won't stand idly by and watch lackluster effort.

Hermano de Memphis. It's about damn time for Marc Gasol to lay one on his brother. Pau's gotten the better of the younger Gasol in the past few meetings that I can recall, and with Mike Conley hell bent on playing through nagging injuries, Big Spain needs to come out and have one of those Max Marc night's that we haven't seen since...well, December? I'd honestly be okay with Marc taking 75% of the shots tonight and everyone else's role being defined by cleaning up his misses.

That dude. Who's going to be that dude for the Bulls? If you've been watching the Grizzlies, you'll know what I'm saying. I'm talking about the dude for the Bulls who 90% of us haven't heard of but will somehow, through mystical or scientific forces, play like he is an All-Time Top 10 NBA player. My top choices for "that dude":

  1. Aaron Brooks. Sure, why not, you've started only 50 games in the past 7 years so that'd be a fitting role to play up against Conley.
  2. Kirk Hinrich. Kirk's 3P% has gone to absolute crap this season. He's looking at careers lows everywhere, has a sub-7.00 PER, and is in the twilight of his career. That combination should honestly probably make him the #1 possibility.
  3. Doug McDermott. Yes! Someone who has only played 64 minutes since December 1st and isn't old enough to rent a car is a prime candidate for "that dude". Known as a sharp shooter out of college, he has only made eight (8) 3-pointers so far in his NBA career. There's a good chance he doubles that figure tonight.
  4. Tony Snell. He almost sneaks by, but I see you Tony Snell. I see your 4.9 PPG average in your two NBA seasons. And I also see the 20-24 point games you've been sprinkling in over the past month. You're an undersized wing, but I bet we find a way to foul you five times in one quarter.

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2015 NBA Season
at
2015:
44-18 (20-11 road)
2015:
39-25 (20-13 home)
March 9th, 2015
United Center in Chicago, IL
7:00 PM CDT
NBATV / Fox SportSouth / 92.9 FM ESPN
Possible Starters
Mike Conley PG Aaron Brooks
Courtney Lee SG Tony Snell
Jeff Green SF Mike Dunleavy
Zach Randolph PF Pau Gasol
Marc Gasol C Joakim Noah
2015 Advanced Stats
94.2 (26th) Pace 95.6 (21st)
103.6 (12th) OffEff 104.8 (9th)
100.3 (T-8th) DefEff 102.0 (13th)