The Chicago Bulls kicked off the 2011-2012 season with a successful road trip, and now they'll return home for a couple of tough opponents before heading out on the road again. The schedule hasn't exactly been murderers row, but in their first nine games, seven will be on the road, and only two or three of them are against teams expected to miss the playoffs.
It's a nice early test for the Bulls, and tonight's game against Memphis will be another solid benchmark for the team. The Grizzlies play with tremendous balance. They can put a lineup of five quality scorers on the floor, and they have a lot of bulk at the power forward and center positions.
They'll test the Bulls in ways they haven't yet been tested this year as they have a couple of excellent low post players that the Bulls will have to contend with.
Keys to the game
Don't let Randolph bully you inside
Zack Randolph can be a load to deal with when he's on his game, but he has a long history of also falling in love with his jumper rather than working down load where he can become a threat on the offensive glass and bully several of our post defenders to score in the post.
If Chicago can keep most of Randolph's work outside, they'll be in must better shape.
Get out and run
The Grizzlies have quality players all over the floor, but their big men aren't the quickest, and the Bulls could do some serious damage with their big men aggressively running the floor. Taj Gibson and Joakim Noah should be able to get behind the Grizzlies defense in transition for some easy baskets if they play aggressively.
Drive Derrick drive
The Grizzlies have quality offensive big men, but they aren't big time shot blockers. Their interior help defense isn't quick or athletic enough to disturb Rose when he gets into the paint. Rose should attack the basket all game long and make it to the foul line plenty of times for easy points.
Memphis is a quality team with plenty of depth. Chicago has several significant advantages which should lead to victory. They'll also be amped up to play in front of the home crowd for the first time this season. I expect a comfortable Bulls victory, but there's no guarantees against a quality opponent.