Location: FedEx Forum – Memphis, TN
Time: Noon CST/1:00pm EST
Nat’l TV: ESPN
Radio: ESPN 1000
Announcers: Neil Funk, Stacey King
Line: Bulls by 4.0
Injury Report/Inactives: CHICAGO — PG C.J. Watson (Elbow, OUT), SG Ricard Hamilton (Hamstring, Day-to-Day), C Joakim Noah (Thumb/hand, Day-to-Day)
MEMPHIS — SF Rudy Gay (Day-to-Day)
Key Matchup: Luol Deng vs. Rudy Gay
Last Game: Bulls beat Raptors 77-64 , Grizzlies beat Hornets 108-99
Last Meeting: January 1, 2012 – Bulls 104, Grizzlies 64
Series History (Since 2002-03): Series tied 9-9
Last Minute Preview: I predicted that the Raptors game would go more then swimmingly but that actually didn’t happen. The Grizzlies aren’t the Raptors but no one is sure what that means right now.
A lot of people picked Memphis as their sleeper team of 2012 but they have been very mediocre as of late. At 5-6 the Grizzlies aren’t sure shot hey are. They come onto the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day matchup riding a two game winning streak with wins over the Hornets and Knicks. But that comes after a long losing streak to teams like the Lakers and Thunder.
The moral of that story is when the Grizzlies are faced with average to above average opposition they excel. But face an elite team and the Grizzlies falter. The Bulls fall under the category of elite in the NBA and last time these two teams met the Bulls held Memphis under 70 points.
The scary thing about this game is that the Grizzlies are an unstable team but unfortunately the Bulls are as well. Of their last few games they’ve managed to let the other guy snack into it. Even the Wizards pulled ahead of the Bulls by two after Chicago mounted a big lead. The Grizzlies are on ESPN in what is viewed as a Thanksgiving Day-eqsue game for them. The MLK Day game is special to the Grizzlies for more then just basketball and that may fuel something the Bulls don’t want to see.
Derrick Rose needs to be the leader here because as we’ve seen in the recent past even if the Bulls get a 24 point lead, a team can and will pull back into the game. That needs to stop now and after a performance where Chicago didn’t break 80 for the second time in three games Chicago will be hungry to show they can destroy teams.
Prediction: Bulls 101, Grizzlies 87