The Heat, at 5–1, are the defending champions. The Grizzlies are 4–1, having gotten off to a hot start to the season for the first time since the Pau Gasol era. After three straight years of starting slow and losing games on a long West Coast road trip in October, the Grizzlies have come out of the gate ready to go.
Zach Randolph is leading the league in rebounds averaging 15.0 a game. Rudy Gay is averaging 19.2 PPG (which, well, he’s also got an eFG% of 40%, so maybe that should be tempered a little). Marc Gasol is playing beautiful basketball and Mike Conley looks to have taken another step forward this year, playing even better than he did last year.
The Heat have also gotten off to a strong start, playing their distinctive brand of positionless basketball.
Here’s a rundown of the details. Starting lineup for the Heat is based on who they started against the Hawks Friday night — and yes, that’s three small forwards [Ed. Update: Wade will start tonight, so, yeah...]:
|2012/2013 NBA Regular Season|
|11 November 2012, 5:00 PM|
|Memphis Grizzlies Tickets|
|Mike Conley||PG||Mario Chalmers|
|Tony Allen||SG||Dwyane Wade|
|Rudy Gay||SF||Shane Battier|
|Zach Randolph||PF||LeBron James|
|Marc Gasol||C||Chris Bosh|
|94.2 (7th of 30)||Pace||93.0 (16th of 30)|
|107.05 (5th of 30)||ORtg||115.92 (1st of 30)|
|99.16 (5th of 30)||DRtg||105.92 (23rd of 30)|
Here’s what it’s going to take for Memphis to defend home court:
Keys to the Game
- The bench. The Grizzlies bench played out of their minds against Houston on Friday night, building up a lead when the Grizzlies’ starters were struggling, largely due to Omer Asik being bigger than my house. Jerryd Bayless, Wayne Ellington, Quincy Pondexter, and Marreese Speights all made huge contributions.
- Rudy Gay is going to have to (1) stop shooting so many contested jumpshots and (2) guard LeBron James. I’m not sure which one of those two things is harder for him at this point.
- Most of all, the Grizzlies are going to have to make the Heat play a more conventional style of basketball. Size inside is Memphis’s key advantage over Miami. (Lord knows "Having LeBron James" is probably a bigger advantage, overall.) If the Grizzlies can get Gasol and Randolph going in the paint, they can force Miami to have to play two conventional bigs instead of playing LeBron at the 4, which they’ve been doing a lot so far this season. Getting the inside game established early is going to be huge if the Grizzlies are going to remain undefeated at home.
Memphis is probably the only NBA city where Mario Chalmers is more hated than LeBron. "Chalmers for three!" flashes me right back to that 2008 National Championship game in a way that looking at Darrell Arthur in a Grizzlies uniform doesn’t. I want to puke right now just writing about it. ↩