Keys to the Game: Bulls vs Grizzlies (10.15.21)

by Bulls.com
Remind Me Later

Body

The Bulls and the Memphis Grizzlies close out the 2021-22 preseason tonight at the United Center. Chicago looks to stay unbeaten while the Beale Street Bears hit town sporting a 3-2 mark.

For the Bulls to close the book on a perfect preseason Chicago needs to stampede out of the chute as soon as the ball gets tossed up for grabs. Establishing a fast pace from the jump and sticking to it will be an important key for the Bulls this season as it will help to ignite their explosive offense, and at the same time tonight, knock the Grizzlies onto their back paws right from the start.

Life in the Fast Lane

From top to bottom the new-look Chicago Bulls are long, lean, fast, and athletic. The Memphis Grizzlies ain't too shabby either. Tonight's contest, albeit the final preseason tilt for both, could see a lot of scoreboard lights burned up.

For Chicago to succeed they have to play fast, but also controlled. The Bulls need to get up and down the court in a hurry, yet they cannot turn the ball over with sloppy and careless passing. The ball must freely skip around the 3-point arc with everyone getting involved in the action. Opponents must be forced to worry about defending all angles, and to accomplish this the ball cannot get stuck in one player's hands for long.

LaVine dribble drives

Look for the Bulls to attack the rim at every opportunity in search of quick and easy scores. It also wouldn't be a bad thing if they could find their way to the charity stripe early and often. A lot of easy points can be gathered if a team is aggressive and doesn't shy away from contact.

Heart, Hustle and Muscle

Defensively, the Bulls are going to need to pick the ball up early and make someone other than Ja Morant wreak havoc. Morant, a third-year floor general, is one of the NBA's rising stars. So far this preseason he's averaging 22.3 points in 24.7 minutes while shooting 63.4% from the field and 86.7% from the free throw line. Morant leads the league in fast break points per game (7.7) and points in the paint (13.3). Along with power forward Jaren Jackson Jr., and veteran center Steven Adams, Morant sat out for rest in Memphis's last tune-up against Indiana on Wednesday. It's likely all three will take the floor tonight against the Bulls.

Ja Morant celebrates

Something to keep in the back of your mind while watching the game tonight is Memphis has been able to jump out and lead by as many as 39 points in each of the last two preseason games in which Morant, Jackson Jr. and Adams played together.

Despite sitting the other night, Adams leads the NBA in offensive rebounds per game (6.0), helping the Grizzlies rank second in the league in that category (12.8) and second (behind only the Bulls) in second chance points (17.4). Keeping Adams in check on the glass at both ends of the floor is certainly part of Chicago's gameplan.

The Return of the Paw!

Tonight should see the return of Bulls second-year forward Patrick Williams, who has missed the first three preseason games with a badly sprained left ankle. Williams has been a full participant at practice this week and should get plenty of opportunities to shake off any rust that may have built up. The same goes for free agent back-up center Tony Bradley, who has been nursing an achy back for the last couple of weeks. Both Williams and Bradley will play key roles for the Bulls this season.

Patrick Williams
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