[Thanks to SnellYouLater for today's game preview -yfbb]
Tonight, the Chicago Bulls travel down to Memphis to face their Western Conference doppelganger in the Memphis Grizzlies. Both teams play a similar style of basketball, emphasizing defense first, making for what should be a good matchup and close game with or without Derrick Rose.
The Bulls' star point guard is not traveling with the team down to Memphis because he has a stomach virus, although team officials have not ruled him out from playing in the game saying that he could show up on his own later and play. It seems like typical Bulls gamesmanship, and the chances are that Rose will not play in tonight's game. Just from personal experience with the stomach flu, if you don't know by 12 hours out whether you can play in a basketball game, you are probably not feeling well enough to play. Let's just hope that he doesn't get Meningitis or something crazy like that.
Looking at some stats, the teams are similarly matched in many categories. The Grizzlies are 6th overall in the league in Offensive Rating and 7th in Defensive Rating, while the Bulls are 10th overall in Offensive Rating and 9th in Defensive Rating. The Bulls are ranked 6th in Opponent's Field Goal Percentage at 43.5% a game, while the Grizzlies are 7th at 43.8% a game. Both teams have a history of defensive prowess but built on that base with new acquisitions and a revived offensive game.
While it would be nice to have our star player for one of the biggest matchups of the season, it won't hurt against the Grizzlies as much as it would against other teams. For one, Mike Conley is a smaller point guard, so Aaron Brooks and Kirk Hinrich won't have as much of a size differential as they would with someone like Russell Westbrook or Damian Lillard. The Grizzlies also have an Opponent's 3 Point Percentage rate at 36% a game and give up about 23 attempts a game (compared to the Bulls 35.5% and 18 attempts a game). That could be something Brooks, Hinrich, Dunleavy and Mirotic can exploit against the Grizzlies' tough defense.
Besides point guard, the teams are evenly matched. Joakim Noah can't score as much as Zach Randolph or Marc Gasol, but Noah and Pau Gasol should be able to compete and maybe dominate Randolph and the other Gasol on the boards. It'll be fun to watch the Gasol brothers battle as well. Tony Allen is still an intense defensive player, which should give Jimmy Butler a good challenge after his 35 point performance last night. It's hard to say that Tony Allen and Courtney Lee outmatch Jimmy Butler and Mike Dunleavy, though. The Grizzlies have some decent bench players with Vince Carter, Quincy Pondexter, Kosta Koufos, and Tayshaun Prince, but I'd take Taj Gibson (who I bet will play), Aaron Brooks, and Nikola Mirotic over them any day.
This will be a good test for the Bulls in seeing how well the team can execute in a pressure environment during a big game, although it would be nice to have Derrick Rose come along. Either way, it should be a fun game and a good measuring stick for the team going forward.
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