The Memphis Grizzlies take on the Chicago Bulls tonight in Chicago tonight at 7:00 CT. Two teams in similar situations in terms of rebuilding, but one team will be short handed to say the least tonight. What questions lie ahead for this young and short handed Grizzlies team trying to avoid their second loss in a row?
1.) Without Ja Morant and Brandon Clarke, why in the world should you tune in tonight?
Easy answer. Jaren Jackson Jr. The matchup favors Jackson very well, and he is coming off of a huge game against the Indiana Pacers on Monday night. Jackson dropped 31 points, on 10/19 shooting in 34 minutes of game action. The Grizzlies and Bulls faced off on October 25th at FedEx Forum in Memphis for opening night. Jackson dropped 23 points on 9/17 shooing, in 32 minutes of game action in a Grizzlies loss to Chicago. He’s likely to have a big game.
2.) The Grizzlies defense is ranked 24th in the NBA in total team defense. Being the 24th ranked defense in the league, and being short handed, how in the world do they stop the Bulls tonight?
Although the Grizzlies defense hasn’t been the best, they’ve shown signs of getting better and getting stops when necessary. Being short handed means there will be guys who haven’t played with one another outside of practice. You’ll hear Jae Crowder and Dillon Brooks communicating with their on high screens throughout the game no matter what. Their heart is on the defensive end, believe it or not.
Fortunately for the Grizzlies, the Chicago Bulls rank 23rd in the NBA in points per game as a team and 22nd in assists. This means that the Bulls struggle to score and share the ball, but if the Bulls run the off ball screens like Indiana did, Memphis will be in trouble.
3.) Two key Memphis Grizzlies could be on the brink of a return to the lineup - Jonas Valanciunas and Kyle Anderson. What are the chances they return?
Anderson and Valanciunas are both questionable heading into tonight’s ball game. Anderson, who has been battling a right heel injury was listed as OUT prior to Monday night’s matchup with Indiana. Anderson hasn’t seen the floor since November 26 in Indiana. No one knows the extent of the injury on Anderson’s heel, but at least Anderson is listed as questionable heading into tonight’s matchup. Memphis will need him tonight.
For Valanciunas, it is a matter of recovering from an illness. Jonas has missed the last two games (four days) with an illness that even kept him from sitting with the team Monday night. It’s unfortunate for Valanciunas, who looked to be finding his stride the last couple of game before getting sick.
4.) De’Anthony Melton has been huge for the Grizzlies since Ja Morant was announced to be week-to-week with back spasms. With Tyus Jones starting, and Melton taking that backup reins, does Melton deserve more minutes when Morant returns?
Absolutely. Melton has played his tail off the last two games. A small sample size, but you have to like it. Only problem will be when Morant returns, what does Jenkins do with Marko Guduric or Grayson Allen at the two? Jenkins faces a tough decision in terms of guy to cut out of the rotation. Let’s hope Melton continues to make it a tough decision for Jenkins here in a few weeks when Morant returns.
5.) Will Memphis avoid their second straight loss in Chicago, or will the Bulls start a two game winning streak?
I don’t think that the Memphis Grizzlies can escape that dreaded second straight loss. With Chicago being at full strength, and coming off a gutty win against the Sacramento Kings. I think Memphis takes it if they are at full strength, but being as short handed as Memphis is - Chicago should come out with a victory.
Memphis and Chicago tip off at United Center in Chicago at 7:00 P.M. C.T. tonight on Fox Sports Southeast.