WHO: Memphis Grizzlies (23-35, 9-20 away) vs. Chicago Bulls (13-44, 5-23 home)
WHERE: United Center in Chicago, Illinois
WHEN: 7:00 PM CT
HOW TO WATCH: Fox Sports Southeast/92.9 FM ESPN Memphis
MEMPHIS- Chandler Parsons (Out, Feelings); Dillon Brooks (Out, Toe); Kyle Anderson (Out, shoulder); Tyler Dorsey (Questionable, Illness); Mike Conley (Questionable, Illness)
CHICAGO- Carmelo Anthony (Out, Rest); Kris Dunn (Questionable, Back); Denzel Valentine (Out, Ankle); Wendell Carter Jr. (Out, Thumb); Chandler Hutchison (Out, Toe)
MEMPHIS- Delon Wright, Avery Bradley, Justin Holliday, Jaren Jackson Jr, Ivan Rabb
CHICAGO- Ryan Arcidiacono, Zach LaVine, Otto Porter Jr., Lauri Markkanen, Cristano Felicio
Memphis is back in action again tonight heading up to the Windy City. The Grizzlies are coming off a heartbreaking loss with Jaren Jackson Jr. missing a key free throw with one second left. This loss comes against the Spurs who looked out of sorts at the beginning of the game leading to the Grizzlies to look relatively good with Avery Bradley and Jonas Valanciunas leading as top scorers. If the Grizzlies main goal is to convey that pick and win games, last night hurt.
Tonight, they look to face one of the tanking teams in the NBA, the Chicago Bulls. It is an all-out tank race in the Eastern Conference between the Bulls, Cavaliers, and Knicks. Those three teams are doing a nice job losing games as the Bulls come in with a modest two-game losing streak. It will take some Grizzlies fans off guard as they watch tonight’s game. Some of the players you will definitely not know. Heck, even the starting five need a quick googling to see where they came from.
This will be the first matchup between these two teams this year. If Memphis wants to take a win on the road, they will need to just play the same game as the night before. A game plan that was almost good enough to beat the Spurs, should most definitely be enough to beat the Bulls. Plus, Conley was battling a sickness last night, so he will be key if he plays in this one.
Here is the big thing to watch in tonight’s contest:
Spark from the new guys
Last night was a huge performance from two of the newest faces on this Grizzlies’ roster. Avery Bradley and Jonas Valancunias scored 33 and 23 respectively. Bradley exploded with one of his best offensive nights in the past calendar year shooting 15-21 from the field (impressively without attempting one free throw). He took over the load as Mike Conley was out for this game. This growth in a new system is exciting if it can continue even a little bit of that production tonight. The Clippers system was something he was just not succeeding in even if Doc Rivers set it up for him, but maybe the trick was just letting him let loose. Bickerstaff needs to work with him giving the confidence to let it fly whenever he has an open look. This Bulls team tonight will be another great opportunity for Bradley to go crazy because of the minimal defense on their end.
As for Valanciunas, he had his first game in a Grizzlies jersey last night. He came off the bench as he was still nursing back from injury. However, you wouldn’t know it last night because those 23 points came in only 21 minutes. He collected 10 rebounds as well seemingly like he will fit in nicely with a more traditional system compared to the new-age Raptors system he used to play in. The Grizzlies will use him more as a bruising center which will help his game grow. Tonight, he will also be able to pad the box score because of the lack of depth in the Bulls’ back court. JV should have another nice night if he is given the green light in minutes.
With all that being said, I think the Grizzlies will pull this one out. It will probably be closer than people like, but Memphis will get it done on the backs of Bradley and JV again. I predict big games again for both of them and also Jaren Jackson Jr., who will have a nice matchup against their young sensation, Lauri Markennen. JJJ will be able to bully him down low if the opportunity is there.
Conley is the biggest question mark. If he plays, it should be a 5-10 point Grizzlies win.
Spread: Chicago –1.5
Grizzlies money line baby!! First time I can confidently say that in a very long time. I am not sure why the Bulls are favorite other than the back-to-back factor, but if the Grizzlies play like they did last night, it should be a Memphis victory.
Memphis- 105, Chicago- 101