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Grizzlies vs Bulls Game Preview

The Grizzlies travel to Chicago to play the East’s 1st seeded Chicago Bulls

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Ja Morant Drives to the basket in the Grizzlies MLK Day win vs the Bulls

WHO: Memphis Grizzlies (41-20, 21-10 road) at Chicago Bulls (39-21, 24-8 home)

WHEN: 7:00 PM CT

WHERE: United Center — Chicago, IL

HOW TO WATCH/LISTEN: Bally Sports Southeast/92.9 FM ESPN Memphis

INJURY REPORT:

Memphis: Dillon Brooks (Out- LT Ankle Sprain), Yves Pons (Out-Thigh Soreness)

Chicago: Lonzo Ball (Out-Knee), Patrick Williams (Out-Wrist), Alex Caruso (Out-wrist)

PROJECTED STARTING LINEUPS:

MEMPHIS: Ja Morant, Desmond Bane, Ziaire Williams, Jaren Jackson Jr., Steven Adams

CHICAGO: Ayo Dosunmu, Zach Lavine, Javonte Green, Demar DeRozan, Nikola Vucevic

On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the Grizzlies defeated the Bulls by 13, highlighted by Steven Adams carrying Tony Bradley off the court and the Ja Morant 360 layup that followed. The Bulls were short-handed without Zach Lavine, Lonzo Ball, Alex Caruso, and multiple bench players as the Grizzlies cruised to victory.

The game on Saturday should be more competitive as the Bulls are closer to full strength with Zach Lavine in the lineup. Facing one of the best teams in the NBA on the road is never easy, but the Grizzlies have excelled against the better teams in the NBA with an 18-11 record against teams above .500.

Getting back on track

For the first time since December 23rd, the Grizzlies lost back-to-back games after a 119-114 loss against the Timberwolves. Ja Morant briefly left the game with a hip injury before returning in the 4th quarter, but it was clear that he was not 100%. The Grizzlies shot just 38% from the field and could never get in a rhythm. The Timberwolves and Trail Blazers are by no means terrible teams, but these are still games that this Grizzlies team expects to win. The Grizzlies have played well, and with a lot of intensity after losses this season, they will need to continue that trend to get a road win against one of the premier teams in the NBA.

Stopping DeMar DeRozan

Before the NBA All-Star Break MVP candidate DeMar DeRozan was on a tear unlike any other in NBA history. He broke Wilt Chamberlain’s record with seven straight games of 35+ points while shooting 50% or better from the floor. In his first game after the All-Star break, Derozan extended his streak to 8, finishing with 37 points on 15-21 shooting. Whenever a player breaks a record held by the statistical anomaly that is Wilt Chamberlain, they deserve your utmost attention, especially when the Grizzlies are missing their best perimeter defender in Dillon Brooks. In the last meeting, the Grizzlies could not completely stop DeRozan, but they did make it difficult for him as he shot 10-24 from the field. The Bulls are certainly not a one-man show, but if the Grizzlies can slow DeRozan down they should win the game.

Don’t fix what isn’t broken

This season, the Grizzlies identity has started on the defensive end, leading the league in steals, blocks, and total deflections. The defensive intensity has also translated into offensive production, as the Grizzlies have scored 15% of their points on fast break opportunities (which leads the NBA). Paint scoring has also been vital for the Grizzlies; they lead the league averaging over 57 points in the paint per game. Based on the results this season, it is clear that if the Grizzlies play their brand of basketball with gritty defense and fast-paced, high-flying offense, they can beat any team in the league. After two straight losses, the Grizzlies need to regain their identity and play the way that has earned them 41 wins on the season.

Prediction

As I said earlier, the Grizzlies are not prone to losing back-to-back games, let alone 3 in a row. I think the Grizzlies will play their brand of basketball and overpower the Bulls in the paint where the Bulls have struggled defensively. DeRozan will probably continue his 30+ point game streak, but the Bulls will not have enough to stop the Grizz. Grizzlies win a close one 117-114.

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