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No room to lament: Memphis vs Chicago Preview

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Losers of the last six and knowing that Mike Conley will no longer play this season, the Grizzlies have a crucial contest against the Bulls where both teams will fight to keep their playoff hopes alive.

Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

Who: Memphis Grizzlies (41-36) vs Chicago Bulls (39-38)

Where: FedEx Forum, Memphis, TN

When: 7:00pm (CT), Tuesday April 5th

How to Watch: Fox Sports Southeast

How to Listen: ESPN 92.9FM Memphis

Injury report:

Memphis Grizzlies Chicago Bulls
P.J. Hairston (groin) - out
Brandan Wright (knee) - out
Mike Conley (foot) - out
Marc Gasol (foot) - out
Jordan Adams (knee) - out
Derrick Rose (elbow) - questionable
E'Twaun Moore (hamstring) - questionable
Taj Gibson (ribs) - out
Joakim Noah (shoulder) - out

Memphis faces Chicago tonight to kick start the most important stretch of the season with five games remaining, the playoff hopes on thin ice and the news of Mike Conley to miss the rest of the way including the postseason.

It has not been a good year for Mike Conley and definitely not the desired year for a free agent to be

It has not been a good year for Mike Conley and definitely not the desired year for a free agent to be. He has not taken his game to the next level, especially after Gasol went down, with averages of 15,3 points and 6,1 assists a game. The good news is that the Grizzlies may be able to sign him for way less than expected.

The best two Grizzlies players Marc Gasol and Mike Conley are done for the season. Potentially big contributors off the bench such as Brandan Wright, Jordan Adams and Mario Chalmers will not play anymore this season either.

Only the Pelicans had more injury-related problems than the Grizzlies this season. In response to this unfortunate situation, Memphis had to make substantial roster changes resulting in a season record for most players used by a team in a single season.

Rank Team Missing games by injured players
1 New Orleans 287
2 Memphis 279
3 Washington 277
4 Denver 228
5 Philadelphia 227


Two wins to seal the deal

There are five games left in the season to clarify Memphis' participation in this year's playoffs. Memphis has two home games and three away games. Two of them happen to be against the reigning champion the Golden State Warriors.

Considering the schedule for the teams involved in the playoff race, Memphis may need two more wins. Perhaps one would suffice, especially if Memphis beats Dallas on Friday. There is also a scenario in which the Grizzlies could fall out of the playoffs altogether if they lose each of their remaining five games.

Those two wins should come in the games against Chicago, Dallas and the Clippers. Thinking about a victory over the Warriors seems something extremely far-fetched given the current circumstances.

West seed Team Record Remaining games
5 Memphis 41-36 vs Chicago, at Dallas, vs Golden State, at Clippers, at Golden State
6 Portland 41-37 at Sacramento, vs Oklahoma, vs Minnesota, vs Denver
7 Dallas 39-38 vs Houston, vs Memphis, at Clippers, at Utah, vs San Antonio
8 Utah 39-38 vs San Antonio, vs Clippers, at Denver, vs Dallas, at Lakers
9 Houston 38-39 at Dallas, vs Phoenix, vs Lakers, at Minnesota, at Sacramento

Memphis is only half a game ahead of the sixth seed Portland and three games ahead of the ninth seed Houston. Portland and Houston mostly play lottery teams the rest of the way. Hence it is easy to predict that Portland will end up in the five seed and Houston in the playoffs.

Dallas and Utah will face stronger opponents though. They both have to play against the Clippers and San Antonio and they also have to play against each other. That is the reason why two wins should ensure Memphis' presence in the playoffs for the sixth consecutive year.

It will not be an easy task with Gasol and Conley out. The other two of the core four, Zach Randolph and Tony Allen, are playing through ankle and wrist injuries respectively. Apart from Matt Barnes and Vince Carter, the rest of the players are either newcomers or inexperienced. In some cases, they are both.

This being said, the Grizzlies will likely come across Golden State, San Antonio or Oklahoma in the playoffs. If that is the case, it will probably be a quick series considering how short-handed Memphis will be for the occasion.


Chicago Bulls

The first of the three winnable games will come tonight against Chicago. Memphis has lost the last six and nine of the last 11. A win against the Bulls would strongly boost the playoff hopes and the team confidence in view of the key match-up against Dallas on Friday.

Labeled as a contender at the beginning of the season, Chicago is currently out of the playoff picture

It has also been a tough season for the Bulls. Chemistry issues in the locker room and between the coach Fred Hoiberg and Jimmy Butler have hurt the team. Labeled as a contender at the beginning of the season, Chicago is currently out of the playoff picture after a plummet in the standings. They are only two games behind the seven and eight seed but the possibility to miss the postseason is more real than ever.

If not to the extent of the Grizzlies, Chicago has also suffered from injuries all year long. The center Joakim Noah has played only 29 games and will not suit up again this season due to a shoulder issue. Mike Dunleavy returned to the lineup after a three month absence. Jimmy Butler, Derrick Rose and Nicola Mirotic have missed roughly 15 games each.

Tonight's game is crucial for both teams. Derrick Rose is questionable after missing the last two meetings due to an elbow issue. Chicago beat Memphis the last time they played back in December. Butler led the way with 24 points in that contest.

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