Needing the Role Players Against Memphis, A Rebounding Advantage, and Other Bulls Bullets
The Chicago Bulls tip-off against the Memphis Grizzlies in just a few short hours, so let’s keep these bullets short and sweet!
- I’m bummed heading into this game for two reasons: (1) I don’t think the Bulls can win, and (2) I know for a fact this will not be as entertaining as last night’s FAU-SDSU game. The Aztecs made March even madder with an incredible buzzer-beater to move to their first national title game in program history. If you missed the moment, I did a super quick post on it here.
- Wait! I just thought of a third reason to be bummed! I will not be able to give Caitlin Clark my full attention since the NCAA women’s championship game starts at the same time as this Bulls game. You can bet your bottom dollar that I will have that broadcasting on a second screen. Don’t you love all this basketball!?
- While we’re on the topic of betting your bottom dollar, the first musical I ever did was Annie back in sixth grade. My roles were as followed: Apple seller, applause sign holder, and the guy who pushes FDR’s wheelchair. In other words, I may not have been the star (although, I did slay that reading of “Apples! Apples! Two for a nickel!”), but I did make my presence felt through the show. And that’s exactly what the Bulls will need from their supporting cast to take down Memphis this afternoon.
- The last time the Bulls and Grizzlies met, Zach LaVine and Nikola Vucevic did what they needed to do. They combined for 52 points with DeMar DeRozan sidelined. LaVine got to the free throw line for 17 attempts, while Vucevic grabbed 17 rebounds, dished 6 assists, and had 3 steals. Still, all the Bulls could muster was a measly 89 points, which tied a season-low. Other than Ayo Dosunmu, not a single supporting cast member managed to crack double figures. The bench added a total of just 12 points on a 3-19 shooting display.
- While DeRozan will thankfully be on the floor today, the Bulls will still have to hope that players like Coby White, Patrick Williams, and Andre Drummond can continue to provide a spark off the bench. The Bulls’ second unit will have to take advantage of every minute that Ja Morant isn’t on the court. And this only feels more important when we consider Memphis is operating without rotation players like Steven Adams, Brandon Clarke, and Zaire Williams.
- Fortunately for the Bulls, their injury report is better than it’s been in recent weeks. Both Alex Caruso and Javonte Green are listed as “probable” and expected to play. We should keep in mind that Caruso has seen his minutes dip a little as he tries to manage his foot injury, but he’s still been pretty effective when on the court.
- With both Adams and Clark stuck in street clothes, the Grizzlies have become pretty vulnerable on the glass. Jaren Jackson Jr. is a superb rim protector, but Vucevic should be able to control the rebounding battle all day long. Not to mention, Andre Drummond should have room to make a big impact in whatever minutes he gets. This should be good news for a Bulls team that has repeatedly been killed by opposing teams gobbling up second-chance points.
- Maybe even Patrick Williams can contribute on the glass! I’ve been adamant about the fact that I think Williams’ season has been a bit underrated. However, even I can’t deny that he needs to put up a much better effort in the rebounding department. I know that guarding the opposing team’s best player can sometimes limit your chances of eating up boards, but you simply can’t record just one rebound in 48 minutes of action while playing power forward (or 3 rebounds in 77 minutes of action).
- Julia Poe of the Chicago Tribune wrote a little bit about that in her piece here:
- FWIW: Ja Morant has been up and down since his return from a nine-game hiatus. He’s averaged just 21.6 points on 46.9 percent shooting from the field over his last five games. He’s even coming off just a 10-point showing on 4-11 shooting against the Clippers. Now, Morant did drop an easy 34 on the Bulls the last time these two met, so they shouldn’t at all take him lightly. But it will be interesting to see what version of Morant we get today.
- The NBA’s brand new CBA will reportedly make All-NBA team voting positionless. On one hand, I can understand tweaking this to better fit the times. We are living in an era of positionless basketball, and award voting should allow us to further embrace that. On the other hand, is it all that bad to just pick the best player at each position? I understand some positions might be more stacked than others, but that’s just how the cookie crumbles sometimes! Voters should be forced to make tough decisions.
- The Chicago Bulls gave a shoutout to two HOFers.
- ICYMI: Lu talked with ESPN’s Field Yates about the Bears’ offseason …
- A nice return for Towes.