Bulls @ Grizzlies at noon on WGN/ESPN

The Bulls kick off Martin Luther King day with a national TV game and a crippled roster.   Carlos Boozer will miss the game after injuring his ankle on the final Bulls offensive possession against the Miami Heat.   Boozer's prospects for a quick return don't seem good, and he'll likely miss at least the following two games as well.

As such, the Bulls come into the game against the Grizzlies undermanned in the front court without both Boozer and Noah.   How will they respond?   Will they go small?   Bring James Johnson back into the rotation?   Hope Omer and Gibson can play big minutes?

Those are the options that Tom Thibodeau has at his disposal.

  


Keys to the game

Speed up the game

With Carlos Boozer out and Taj Gibson in, this is a prime opportunity to get back to the running Chicago Bulls.   The Grizzlies have far more talent in the frontcourt with the Bulls injuries, but they have slow talent.    Play James Johnson in a small lineup, play Deng at the four, and Gibson at the five, then run and run and run.    The Bulls have the capability of playing at a very high pace, but they haven't done so since Noah was hurt.

Given that they aren't likely to match up well in the half court offensively with a Gibson/Thomas/Asik rotation at PF/C, change the game and make Grizzlies front court struggle to keep up in an up and down game.

The guards need to rebound

The Bulls are missing their two best rebounders and as such, they'll need to play with very high energy to keep from being dominated on the glass.   They're going to need the guards to help pick up the slack on the glass.   Kurt Thomas and Asik can help box out, but the guards will need to help crash the glass to grab those boards too.

It's all you Derrick

Sometimes you need to just step back and let your superstar win the game for you.  Derrick Rose has risen to that superstar level, and coming in undermanned, the Bulls will rely on Rose more so than usual.

Since they won't have a low post game of any impact, the Bulls should space the floor and run more isolations for Rose rather than pick and rolls which will result in a trap every time due to the ineffectiveness of the Bulls front court option.

Milk the Deng/Rose pick and roll in the small lineup

It's too much work to run isolations all day for Rose, as he'll wear down.  One option to give him a pick, but defeat a trap is to run the pick and roll with Luol Deng.   Deng can punish the defense for a trap far more so than Thomas or Gibson can, and the option has been successful for the Bulls in the past when they've employed it.

Role players need to step up

Everyone's importance goes up a notch in this game, so the role players, particularly Luol Deng, need to give the Bulls more on offense than they are typically required.  Hopefully Korver can come out shooting and Watson can give the Bulls some quality minutes because the Bulls will need shooting out of both to play small effectively.

Bring the defense

The one thing the Bulls have going for them in this game is that Boozer's a rather weak defender.   The Bulls defense may look better now with him out.  In order to win this game, they'll probably need one of those elite defensive efforts where they hold the Grizzlies down to 90 or fewer points.

Final thoughts

The Bulls are probably underdogs in this game given their injuries and the fact that it's a road game.  They'll need to play with a lot of energy on focus on both ends of the court in order to come up with a win.

Comments

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  • Like your thoughts on this Doug. I really would try to get more time to Asik at 5 and Taj at 4 though.... Asik can run, so you could still play at a fast pace, but I think you would have better defensive matchups.

    Only downside is that I'm not sure how long Asik can stay out of foul trouble, and when that becomes an issue, you have no choice than to leverage your line up.

  • what people dont seem to remember: Bulls have lost 5 in a row in Memphis.

    Just like when they go to NJ - a loss is the probable result.

  • In reply to bulls6:

    Again, it might be the Bulls tendency to play down to their competition. Let's see if Thibs will infuse a new philosophy into such games.
    I see the biggest problem might be Mike Conley Jr than Randolph or Gay. Conley is playing well this year and might be hyped up to play Rose like DJ Augustin was.

  • In reply to schaumburgfan:

    Memphis is only 2 games below .500
    They have an excellent record (7-9 I believe) against winning teams.
    This will be tougher than Nets or 76ers for sure.

  • In reply to bulls6:

    Excellent call, as the they're up by 13 late in the 4th.

  • In reply to schaumburgfan:

    Will Deng ever get a chance to rest? He's gotta have the highest mpg on the team, and we're going to need him come playoffs.

  • In reply to bpmueller:

    You almost feel pity for Deng...He has to go up against the best athletes every game for 40+ mins...Rudy Gay, LBJ etc...
    Except for maybe Paul Pierce and Hedo Turkoglu and a few other guys...most of the starting SFs are athletic than him and he still doesn't a decent job.

  • In reply to schaumburgfan:

    The guy's African, he could probably run a marathon right now after almost scoring 30

  • In reply to schaumburgfan:

    Predictions:
    1. No sign of JJ.
    2. Thibs only trusts Asik for 20 minutes and plays Thomas and Gibson extensively.
    3. You can bet D Rose is going to be up to the task on national tv, or launch a ton of shots trying.
    4. Bogans will start :)

  • In reply to KingOfCrumbs:

    If Asik can get so many min and JJ can't sniff the floor...Wow!! Thibs doesn't have any respect for JJ's game. It is almost like they are keeping JJ healthy for trading...

  • In reply to KingOfCrumbs:

    Bulls never lose on MLK Day.

  • In reply to bulls6:

    I didn't remember that. Nor will I after the Bulls win this game.

  • In reply to bulls6:

    Luol Deng looks like a better player than Rudy Gay.

  • In reply to bulls6:

    Nice win without two of our bigs!!!

  • In reply to bulls6:

    Bulls management will be holding this team back if they don't make a move for a quality shooting guard. Korver is where he's suppose to be and that's coming off the bench cause he is a spot up shooter. When asked to do too much that's when Korver struggles with his shot. I know everyone wants the Bulls to wait til next year but the Bulls are ready to be a serious contender this year so why not go for the big prize and try to make a move. And the score just went final, good win by the Bulls and nice game from Deng and Korver. Again.. the Bulls are one piece away, why not go for the title this year?...

  • In reply to bulls6:

    Too good, too fast, too strong : THIS IS DERRICK ROSE !!
    Firt career triple double. I see no reason why he doesn't deserve MVP award this season.

  • In reply to bulls6:

    As I'm watching the Bulls wrap up this game late in the 4th, I'm somewhat puzzled by how a certain vocal, but minority, number of fans doubt this team.

    Even if they win, the comments are heavy on the negative criticism. A typical post prefaces with a "nice win, BUT...", going on to catalogue a laundry list of what they didn't do well, how the coach is an idiot, and how they'll soon implode due to they just plain suck. What's with that? If they get blown out, sure, rip them a new one. I'll join you. But in a win? Please. The comments should rather be heavy on the positives, at least 80/20.

    Positives: triple-double for Rose? Yeah, he's MVP caliber now, today, and he'll only get better. Really nice to see Korver break out of a slump and get back some confidence. Deng, after all the flak he's been taking, I'm glad to see him have a very solid game...until the next one, where fans will want to get rid of him.

    Oh, and did anyone else notice the superb game by Sam Young? 5 pts on 1-5 shooting in 30 minutes. We definitely need that guy.

  • In reply to zentastic:

    its called a blog where people type their opinions, that's why people make the comments that they do, its not just for certain people, everyone has their own opinion whether the Bulls win or lose.

  • In reply to Reese1:

    You can post whatever you like. You're right, it's your opinion. I'm just making a counterpoint.

  • In reply to zentastic:

    Not trying to be a smart ass but some people on this blog feel like only their opinion and comments matter.

  • In reply to Reese1:

    No worries. You're obviously passionate about them winning it all. We just differ on how they get there, that's all.

  • In reply to Reese1:

    Some opinions are wrong. Take yours for example. That doesn't mean you aren't entitled to them. It just means you're wrong. No big deal.

  • In reply to adamlweber:

    And you're entitled to think that I'm wrong why... cause that's your opinion.

  • In reply to Reese1:

    and that was stupid of you to say cause everyone is entitled to their opinion. You just wanted to be a butt kisser huh...LOL...

  • In reply to zentastic:

    It's NICK Young that MrHappy is always pumping up (although I think he may have mentioned Sam Young in his prediction list of players that will be awesome this season, though all but Nick Young have been conveniently forgotten).

    As far as negativity goes, it'd be pretty boring if everyone agreed, wouldn't be much conversation going on. I admire the persistence of those who manage to see the downside of it all through so much winning, it's kind of like the reverse of the guys who are always upbeat about the team during a lottery season.

  • In reply to DontLetsStart:

    Yes, I know it's Nick. But I took the opportunity to needle Happy some about his past pumping up of Sam :)

    I agree that it's good to have a wide-range of opinions. It makes the blog lively and interesting. I just wanted to vent a little.

  • In reply to DontLetsStart:

    Van Gundy is a complete tool. It was like he had never seen any tape of DRose.

  • Agree with everything you have said. I see JJ as almost the same player Tyrus Thomas is with a slightly better jumpshot but less aptitude for defense/shotblocking. Very raw, dribbles too much, crazy drives/wild passes. Really talented athletically but lacks basketball IQ. I'm in the minority with JJ, I have consistently advocated for him to remain on the bench and only be called upon when absolutely pressed into it. Scalabrine is a better option in my mind, really. At least Tyrus could redeem himself on the defensive end, wheras JJ cannot do that. I think a lot of bulls fans just demand that JJ should see some sort of playing time, but i believe him to be the kind of player that once you see him in extended minutes, you will know why he wasnt playing in the first place.

  • In reply to KingOfCrumbs:

    Scalabrine??? Really??? If he is coming in, it's either because a) we're way up, or b) we're getting blown out. I agree with you in that the staff see something that we don't and that's why he isn't playing, but honestly, I think Scal might be one of the least athletic people in the NBA. Sure, he brings a good court vision, D-Rose seems to like him, etc, but they could at the very least hope JJ plays a little better to bring up his trade value.

  • In reply to KingOfCrumbs:

    I don't really see that comparison. Tyrus Thomas is way better than JJ, his problems were largely effort based rather than not understanding the game.

  • In reply to KingOfCrumbs:

    I agree with Van Gundy, this is one of the Bulls most impressive victorites of the season. I did not expect this but am pleasantly surprised.

    Now let's take care of Charlotte at home tomorrow.

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    Van Gundy admitted he was impressed with the Bulls? What next, Barkley cheering them on?

  • In reply to DontLetsStart:

    Van Gundy always rags on the Bulls all the time so it's nice hearing the other side. I thought Barkley liked the Bulls a lot. Even picked them to win the east if I remember correctly.

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    It was impressive with what seemed like a pretty easy victory. Deng absolutely dominated Rudy Gay.

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    Rose continues to get slapped in the face nationally. The top stories of SI's NBA section are as follows:

    1) Melo not willing to meet with NJ
    2) Blake going for 28 in 1st half
    3) 0 members of "The Heatles" practicing today

    Rose comes in at number 4, sadly, on his 1st career triple double, on national TV. Its just sad the lack of love he gets as opposed to the over-hyped afformentioned Melo, Griffing, James, Wade, & Bosh

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    Yeah, it's lame. Maybe it has something to do with how he's so humble and doesn't aggrandize like, ahem, some players.

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    I don't mind Griffin being in the headlines, dude's a beast and is in no way over hyped, he deserves the hype. But the Heat? We're talking about practice?!

    Melo I think has a sponsorship from the sports writers to drag this on so they have something to write about. Thoroughly sick of it, just get your ass traded somewhere already.

  • In reply to DontLetsStart:

    "We're talking about practice?!"

    Where's Iverson when you need him.

  • In reply to DontLetsStart:

    he is definately exciting

  • Grizzlies are starting Sam Young at shooting guard.............and somewhere Mr. Happy wets his pants.

  • In reply to evilhoban:

    Even Bogans can shut him down;-)

  • In reply to evilhoban:

    Haha!!

  • In reply to evilhoban:

    I have been more impressed with Korver's defense than his well known 3pt shooting except for his last try on Randolph. But, it is the first time he has got some extended time and is doing a good job on team defense..

  • In reply to evilhoban:

    Bulls stepping up big time on defense. Gibson, Asik, and Thomas all doing very well on the inside.

    Korver/Deng stepping up on offense knocking down their shots. Korver, basically the difference between this being a a comfortable Bulls lead and this game being neck and neck.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    Korver should be use more like that. He's the best SG of the team.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    Bulls are going to have to continue playing very well. Given that Memphis is shooting 38% and the Bulls are shooting 56%, it's amazing the game is this close, but the Bulls have no offensive boards compared to the Grizzlies 8.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    Korver should be used more like that. He's the best SG of the team.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    Deng is killing rudy gay defensivly !

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    Grizzlies just can't get anything going on offense. They've been bailed out a few times for free throws, but other than that, they're just getting terrible shots.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    Bulls play great without Boozer. It's amazing!!

  • In reply to logikal77:

    let's not make quick conclusion.

  • In reply to deewaves:

    I already have.

  • In reply to adocarbog:

    explains it !! lol !

  • In reply to deewaves:

    let's discuss about it lol

  • In reply to evilhoban:

    LOL, maybe Bennie can bring the mop for Mappy.

  • Bogans has been more reliable as of late. Enough to get everyone off his back? Absolutely not. But he has been knocking down threes.

  • In reply to KingOfCrumbs:

    Just as soon as I type that he airballs a three.

  • This dude goes to the basketball and doesn't even get touched. The refs blow the whistle. Wow

  • Crunchtime baby!!!

  • I don't think so, even if I do why are you worried about it, its my opinion.

  • yeah !!! he is playing as a real mvp right now. no question about that. I mean who could beat him in mvp race ?

    -Howard ? he is not the first scoring option of orlando. They'd rather take 3pt shot than feed howard in the low-post.
    -Stoodemire ?? his team record isn't enough good.
    Nowiztki ?? he runs away from court giving injury as a justification.
    Lebum ?? i don't think so, queen james doesn't deserves that becuz he's already win it 2 times but didn't bring any championship title.

    ROSE FOR MVP. LET'S KEEP YELLING MVP EVERY TIME HE GOES TO THE LINE AT THE UNITED CENTER !!

  • Agreed. Copy and paste used at its best.

  • I am guessing his line of work is Politics or he is good at that. Win or Lose, send the same message;-)

    Isn't GarPax smart enough to know that...Or maybe they can steal OJ Mayo right now after the game..

  • In reply to schaumburgfan:

    I like Mayo's game, he has a very solid all-around game. Unfortunately, he's too expensive for the Bulls to acquire. I would be happy to see management get someone like him, though, somewhere down the line.

  • In reply to schaumburgfan:

    Nope not into politics, I just have opinions just like anyone else, sorry that some of you don't agree with them.

  • whether its opinion OR opinions its mine and you really shouldn't worry about it one way or the other.

  • In reply to Reese1:

    He is responding to the opinion you publicly stated on a blog. Then you complain that he is 'worried' about your opinion. If you don't want anyone to respond to your opinion then why say it here? The whole point is to have a conversation in which one person states an opinion and another person responds.

    The main difference is that some people back up their viewpoint with logic, facts, and reason while other people just spout the same senseless thing no matter what happens in the real world.

  • In reply to adamlweber:

    its one thing to respond and I have no problem with that but when people have a sarcatic response to mine then that's what they will receive in return. Again, Im sorry that some people don't like to read what's pretty much the truth about this Bulls team.

  • In reply to Reese1:

    And there's nothing to explain when its plain and simple that the Bulls need to make an upgrade whether it be this year or next at a certain position.

  • In reply to adamlweber:

    haha

  • Agree 100%!

  • I'd love to see the Bulls get that 1 wing player that would push them over the top this season. But the only way that 1 guy can push them over the top this season is if they don't have to give too much to get him. And it can't be a short-term fix, either. The guy should be young enough to run with the team for the long-term.

  • In reply to magestew:

    If they can't find that guy, then they should hold on to the few resources they have for that big move instead of giving them up for an insignificant incremental upgrade that won't make them that much better in the post season.

  • In reply to magestew:

    They have to buy high now for some of the guys talked about in general(Mayo, Jackson, JR Smith etc..)...The Bulls have probably targeted a few guys and are waiting for the price to drop on a sinking desperate team...such as Cleveland or Memphis(who would like to reduce payroll)..
    Also, I am not sure but most contenders would probably like to add a big man rather than a SG(Orlando, Miami, OKC..)except for maybe Dallas. So, the more patience the Bulls show they might benefit at the trade deadline..

  • Funniest line from Van Gundy today: After Korver drove in for a layup after hitting several 3's, Jeff's patner mentioned that he also had " a driver's license", which prompted Van Gundy to quip "No, its a learner's permit, adults have to supervise"

  • exactly !

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