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Grizzlies try to stay hot Monday hosting Bulls
By: Zach Cohen - StatFox
Published: 12/30/2013  at  4:07:00 AM
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Tip-off: Monday, 8:05 p.m. ET
Line: Memphis -4.5, Total: 183

The Bulls and Grizzlies meet Monday night with both teams having won two of their last three games.

Chicago had won two straight SU (and three in a row ATS) before getting blown out by the Mavericks at home on Saturday. Memphis, however, has won three out of its past four games (SU and ATS) after crushing the Nuggets 120-99 at home on Saturday. These teams last met on Jan. 19 at United Center with the Grizzlies winning 85-82 for their third straight win in this series. This series has been close since 1996 with Chicago holding a 17-16 SU advantage and Memphis with the 19-14 ATS edge, but the Grizzlies have dominated the Bulls at FedEx Forum with a 12-4 record (SU and ATS) during this timeframe. Chicago has been a brutal road team this season at 4-11 SU (5-10 ATS), but in the past three seasons, the club is 21-11 ATS (66%) coming off a home loss. But in this same timeframe, Memphis is 6-1 ATS after three straight games in which it committed 11 turnovers or less. Both SF Luol Deng (Achilles) and SG Jimmy Butler (toe) are questionable for the Bulls in this game.

Can the Bulls get back on track with a rare win in Memphis? For the answer, connect to The Platinum Sheet for all the Expert picks throughout the entire 2012-13 season. The five experts are sizzling on NBA Best Bets in December, going 65% ATS (61-33) including 75% ATS (35-12) since Dec. 16. During the month, StatFox Zach has an astronomical 83% ATS mark (15-3) and is currently 61% ATS (26-17) on Best Bets for the season. StatFox Dave has an excellent 70% ATS (14-6) Best Bets record in December and is 55% ATS (24-20) on Best Bets for the season. StatFox Gary is 63% ATS (12-7) in December Best Bets, while StatFox Scott is 63% ATS (12-7) in December Best Bets. Since Dec. 18, StatFox Brian is 6-2 ATS.

The Bulls surrendered 105 points in their blowout loss on Saturday, but they still allow only 93.1 PPG this season (2nd in NBA). This has helped keep them in games with a league-low 91.6 PPG on offense on 42.4% FG (28th in NBA). PG D.J. Augustin (10.5 PPG, 5.9 APG with Chicago) has been excellent since he joined the Bulls, and he is averaging 13.0 PPG, 6.4 APG and 2.0 SPG over the past five games. Despite being bothered by a hip injury, C Joakim Noah (11.0 PPG, 9.8 RPG) still had 20 points (8-of-11 FG) and 10 rebounds in the loss to Dallas. He will need to have a good game against the Grizzlies without defensive stalwart C Marc Gasol, and Noah should be able to dictate play in the post against a depleted Memphis team. PF Carlos Boozer (14.8 PPG, 8.8 RPG) must also hold his own against Zach Randolph inside. Boozer is averaging just 13.5 PPG and 5.0 RPG in his past two games, and if he struggles to cover Randolph inside, he will be replaced by PF Taj Gibson (12.0 PPG, 6.5 RPG). Gibson not only has the strength and athleticism to cause Randolph problems defensively, but has scored more than a dozen points in five straight games averaging 15.6 PPG on 63% FG during this stretch. SF Mike Dunleavy (10.5 PPG, 4.0 RPG) had just six points on 3-of-9 shooting Saturday against the Mavericks, and the Bulls will need him to hit double digits, as they will struggle to find scoring opportunities against a Memphis team that makes it very difficult to generate offense.

The Grizzlies rank sixth in the NBA in scoring defense (97.3 PPG allowed) and have been playing extremely well on offense in their past four games with 102.8 PPG on 46.7% FG. For the season, they are averaging just 94.2 PPG (25th in NBA) on 44.9% FG. PF Zach Randolph (17.0 PPG, 10.0 RPG) has really picked up the slack with C Marc Gasol out, and he has been a leader for this team while passing the ball extremely well out of the post. During this 3-1 surge, he is averaging 22.5 PPG, 12.0 RPG and 4.5 APG. PF James Johnson (8.8 PPG, 4.5 RPG), who used to play for the Bulls, is averaging 13.0 PPG (10-for-15 FG) and 6.0 RPG over the past two contests, and his play has been huge for Memphis as the team lacked athleticism and scoring before his arrival. With the Bullsí lack of a starting caliber point guard, PG Mike Conley (17.0 PPG, 6.2 APG) is poised for a monster game. SG Tony Allen (10.5 PPG, 4.2 RPG) has struggled offensively over the past three games with just 6.7 PPG on 30% FG (9-of-30), but defensively, he is one of the best in the league (2.0 SPG) with the ability to cover both guards or forwards.

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