7 p.m., WGN
Grizzlies guard Andrew Harrison won’t play tonight as he continues to recover from a wrist injury. Tyreke Evans is questionable with a rib injury and veteran guard Mario Chalmers is doubtful with a right hamstring issue.
Paul Zipser returns to the rotation after missing the last eight games with a foot injury. In what may be a last ditch effort to save the tank, Bulls star rookie Lauri Markkanen will miss his second game in a row with back spasms.
The Last Time:
The Bulls have struggled (as in they’ve played too well when they should be losing) against fellow tankers.
In the first matchup between the two teams on March 7, the Bulls led by 21 points in the third quarter, but allowed Memphis to slowly chip away at the lead and eventually seize a one-point advantage halfway through the fourth quarter.
But then the Grizzlies tanking instincts took over and they succumbed to the Bulls 119-110. Using Deyonta Davis while sitting Marc Gasol for the entire fourth quarter probably helped the losing effort.
In what was one of the more encouraging signs for the Bulls future lately, Markkanen, Kris Dunn, and Zach LaVine all scored 20 or more points and combined to shoot 22-for-39 from the field (56.4 percent).
This was also Justin Holiday’s “return” after the NBA chastised the Bulls for sitting him while he was healthy in five of the Bulls first six games after the All-Star break. He scored six points in 12 minutes.
We have to do this again....?
The Bulls aren’t a good basketball team. But they aren’t horrendous enough to garner a top five pick in the draft this summer barring a lottery ball miracle. In a way, after all the talk about picking a direction and the confidence expressed in the rebuild, the Bulls are still a middling basketball team stuck in a form of basketball purgatory.
The Grizzlies, who are tied for the worst record in the NBA right now, have zero incentive to win tonight. All that would do is undermine what they’ve been trying to do the entire season. At this point, don’t be surprised if the Grizzlies veterans start cussing out referees to try to get ejected or faking injuries for the sake of having an excuse to not play in the fourth quarter.
Right now, the Grizzlies are a bunch of players that you’ve probably never heard of playing a game that may or may not resemble NBA basketball. They have literally lost 18 games in a row as it’s been an ugly crawl to the finish in Memphis.
Meanwhile, the Bulls would like to see Zach LaVine get back on track. The Bulls star has scored 10 or less points in three of the last five games and has shot the ball at a 31.9 percent clip from the field during that span.
It’s day one of March Madness, so the viewing audience for the Bulls 7 p.m. tip is going to be, like, ten people. But, if you need to decompress and get your heart rate down from the excitement of the NCAA tournament, tune into Bulls and Grizzlies because it’ll probably be a significantly less thrilling experience.