Keys To The Game: Bulls at Grizzlies (1.17.22)

Remind Me Later


The Bulls almost completed a big-time comeback in Boston, falling short in a 114-112 lost to the Celtics.

The Bulls received a massive 27-point, 6-rebound, 6-assist game from Nikola Vucevic but he missed a 3-pointer from the top of the key as time expired and a DeMar DeRozan putback also fell short, handing the Bulls their 14th loss of the season.

Now, Chicago head into Memphis to take on an upstart Grizzlies team that is making waves in the Western Conference. Bulls fans of the Derrick Rose-era will surely get flashbacks watching the brilliant Ja Morant go to work for Memphis. Here is how Chicago can take down a tough Memphis team as they look to keep their hold on first place in the Eastern Conference.

Contain Ja Morant

Ja Morant is a superstar, a point guard in the Derrick Rose-mold, using his incredible athleticism to create advantages for himself and his teammates.

The Bulls will be hard pressed to stop Morant without Alex Caruso in the lineup but one would assume stellar rookie Ayo Dosunmu will take the primary assignment of guarding Morant.

Ja will need to be blanketed on his drives to the basket and help defenders need to be alert as to when Morant beats his matchup off the dribble to ensure there are plenty of extra bodies crowding Morant's ability to take off in small spaces.

Ja Morant

Hard closeouts on Desmond Bane

Desmond Bane not be a household name yet, but the 6-foot-5 Bane is shooting 42.5% from the 3-point line in his brief career. This season he is attempting a career-high 6.9 attempts from 3-point range.

This is incredible production from a second-year guard and the exact type of shooter you would want to place next to a drive-and-kick guard like Morant.

While Morant, obviously, deserves the most attention from the Bulls defense, Chicago will need to keep track of Bane on the perimeter unless they want to get into a tough-to-win, 3-point shootout with a feisty Memphis team.

Desmond Bane

Fight for every loose ball

This Memphis Grizzlies team has been successful this season because of many factors, but the main one being their toughness.

"Toughness," is, of course, a buzzword thrown around by coaches often but the Grizzlies definitely showcase it. The Grizzlies are the No. 1 team in the league in rebounding rate and the battle tremendously hard for every loose ball.

The Bulls will again be shorthanded. And while Nikola Vucevic and DeMar DeRozan can lift up the Bulls offense, they will need to limit mistakes to give the Bulls a chance.

That means that any could-be-turnover or almost-Memphis-offensive rebound needs to be fought for until the last second. The Bulls are not a team that thrives in terms of second-chance points, so this is why limiting turnovers is so important for their success.

The Grizzlies will gladly take the opportunity to "muck up" Monday's MLK Day game, hoping their pace and hustle can knock off the first place Bulls.

Alex Caruso stealing the ball from Will Barton

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