04 March 2010
First the good news. Rose, Deng, and Miller are all expected to play tonight. Now the bad news. Domination. That's what I expect from the Grizz tonight at the UC. Take a look at their front line. Gay, Randolph, and Gasol. Oh boy. Think back to a few days ago when the Bulls got punished on the boards 63-37. First of all, typing that made me want to vomit slightly. That type of disparity is nausea-inducing. Now think about Zachary Randolph matching up against Taj Gibson/Brad Miller/Hakim Warrick or...good lord...Chris Richard. We're talking about a guy who averages 21 points and 12 rebounds a game. Nobody wants the task of guarding Z-Bo in the post. Nobody really can.
And let's forget about Randolph for a second. Let's talk about Marc Gasol. If Randolph won't be crashing the glass, then this guy for sure will be. He's a scrappy player who's averaging 15 points and 10 boards a game. I absolutely guarantee that Randolph and Gasol will combine for AT LEAST 25 boards. Brad Miller, allong with his 10 inch vertical, will be totally and utterly incapable of crashing the glass tonight. Which means Taj alone might reach double-digit rebounds, but don't expect it from anyone else. Chris Richard just doesn't have the experience or the talent to compete with these two, and Hakim Warrick doesn't really rebound. Welcome to life without Joakim Noah.
As for the rest of the Grizz, this team can flat out score. Mayo is going to be a tough assignment for Hinrich, who has been struggling on both ends of the floor as of late. But then again, Hinrich has shut down much tougher players than O.J. Mayo this season, so I think he'll be alright. Rudy Gay is averaging over 20 points a game this season. He and Luol Deng are fairly similar players, although I like Gay much better offensively. But I think Lu is a much better rebounder and defender. I think Lu will do a nice job on Gay tonight and will manage to take advantage of Gay's inability to box out and rebound, which will give the Bulls some second chance points. So I give the slight edge to Luol Deng tonight.
Mike Conley is a good player, but Derrick Rose should absolutely dominate that matchup tonight. In fact, the only way we win this game tonight is if Derrick Rose doesn't pass the ball, has at least 30 field goal attempts, and realizes that the best chance the Bulls have tonight is for him to dominate the much smaller Mike Conley all game. The key is to take advantage of the matchups that are in your favor, and the D-Rose/Conley matchup is the only one that is in the Bulls' favor. The rest of the matchups are not even close and STRONGLY favor the Grizzlies, pretty much on both ends of the floor. The Bulls are also probably going to need Flip Murray to come off the bench and score a bunch of points tonight to stay in this one. The Grizzlies bench doesn't scare me whatsoever, so that might be where the Bulls have to take advantage with Murray and Warrick on offense.
And so goes life with Joakim Noah. Rebounds are going to be a constant struggle for this team now that Joakim is shut down and Tyrus's length is absent off the bench. Taj Gibson is going to really have to fight for everything and anything he can get his hands on, and maybe Chris Richard can come in and bang down low and get the Bulls some second chance opportunities with his body. That's a big maybe. Bottom line...D-Rose is really going to have to put this team on his back and be in takeover mode for the Bulls to keep this one close tonight.
Prediction: Grizzlies rout the Bulls 107-88 to hand the Bulls their third loss in a row and 2nd blowout loss in a row. I just don't see the Bulls being in this one tonight, folks. With injuries to core players, this could become a common trend.