The Memphis Grizzlies broke their season-long three game losing streak on Saturday night in Utah and will look to notch their second straight win on Monday night against the Chicago Bulls in a game that is usually played on Martin Luther King Day.
The Grizzlies and Bulls are both the 4 seed in their respective conferences, meaning that if the playoffs started today then they would have home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
The Bulls are of course without 2011 NBA MVP Derrick Rose as he recovers from a torn ACL that he suffered in the first round of the 2012 NBA Playoffs. Nobody is quite sure when Rose may return to the court, and some people have wondered if he would even play at all this season. An ACL injury generally carries with it an 8-12 month recovery process, so it will likely be well after the new year.
In his absence, the Bulls have struggled at times to score, but have a 13-9 record that is good for first place in the Eastern Conference’s Central Division.
Joakim Noah has played like an All-Star early in 2012, averaging a double-double and leading all centers in the entire league in assists. Behind him is Memphis’ own Marc Gasol.
In addition to Noah’s good play, Carlos Boozer and Luol Deng have been solid as well. Deng has followed up his 2012 All-Star appearance with another good season. Deng also currently leads the NBA in minutes per game, playing over 41 per night. Second is his teammate Noah.
Boozer is overpaid compared to some other guys that make a comparable salary, but you can still count on him for a double-double every night and hit a good amount of his free throws. His defense is often hard to watch, but he does other things to make up for it.
The Grizzlies encountered their first tough stretch of the young season this past week and pulled themselves out of it by becoming only the second team to beat the Jazz in Utah on Saturday night. They’re a much more troublesome matchup at home.
Against a team that struggles to score, that could be the difference. The Grizzlies win by 12 in a game that isn’t quite that close.