WHEN: 7:00 PM CT
WHERE: United Center in Chicago, Illinois
HOW TO WATCH/LISTEN: FOX Sports Southeast/92.9 FM ESPN Memphis
Memphis- Jarell Martin (Questionable, right knee), Mario Chalmers (Out, right hamstring), Mike Conley (Out, left heel), Tyreke Evans (Out, right rib), Andrew Harrison (Out, right wrist)
Chicago- Paul Zipser (Doubtful, foot)
PROJECTED STARTING LINEUPS:
Memphis: Kobi Simmons, Ben McLemore, Dillon Brooks, JaMychal Green, Marc Gasol
Chicago: Kris Dunn, Zach LaVine, David Nwaba, Bobby Portis, Lauri Markkanen
Tonight’s matchup against the Chicago Bulls is a big one, no matter your stance on tanking. If you’re on the tank team, losing this game would help create some distance between the Grizzlies and Bulls in the standings. If you’re rooting for Grizzlies wins, tonight provides a great opportunity to end the current 14-game losing streak.
Despite losing 14 in a row, J.B. Bickerstaff has had the injured Grizzlies remaining competitive over the past week. JaMychal Green has been a double-double machine over the last 7 games and has become more of a facilitator as well. Jarell Martin has shown flashes again of being a NBA player. Kobi Simmons has played well in his minutes as well.
The little things have been nice to see as the Grizzlies keep on losing, but eventually this team needs to win again to boost some morale. Here’s what the Grizzlies need to do tonight to snap the losing streak.
The Grizzlies have been the worst team at turning the ball over of late, averaging 17.3 turnovers per game since February which is the league worst. Opponents have turned those turnovers into 23.2 points per game, another league worst. When facing a bad team like the Bulls, you want to limit the amount of easy opportunities they get. Especially in Chicago where a turnover could lead to a breakaway Zach LaVine dunk that will surely hype the crowd up and give the Bulls momentum. The Grizzlies, especially the young guards, will need to take care of the ball and limit easy Bull opportunities in tonight’s game if they want to win.
Feed the Big Men
The Grizzlies point guard depth has been depleted by injuries, as they are left with rookies Kobi Simmons, on a two-way contract, and Xavier Rathan-Mayes who is on a 10-day contract. This has caused both JaMychal Green and Marc Gasol to step up their game to keep the Grizzlies competitive in contests. Bulls Coach Fred Hoiberg has been experimenting with his lineups lately and his most recent lineup change has been to go small, with rookie Lauri Markkanen and Bobby Portis being the starting big men for the Bulls. It remains to be seen how the Bulls will respond to the warning from the NBA about resting healthy players (Justin Holiday & Robin Lopez) but it’s still likely the Bulls will throw out the Markkanen-Portis tandem down low for a majority of the game.
If that’s the case, Green and Gasol should be able to feast on the interior as neither Bull is much of a defensive threat.
This Grizzlies squad has been fighting especially hard as of late, despite the various injuries to the team. The Bulls, on the other hand, just got blown out by the Celtics by 16 points on Monday. With the many injuries to the Grizzlies, it’s hard to predict them to win a game until healthy, but after their effort against the Spurs on Monday, I think they squeak out a win in Chicago to snap the losing streak in what will likely be an ugly game.
Memphis 102 Chicago 98