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Game Preview: Memphis Grizzlies vs. Miami Heat

With 15 games remaining, the Grizzlies find themselves in playoff position, but just barely. If they are going to sneak in, they will have to win some tough games. Playing against the two-time defending champion Heat in Miami qualifies as one of those tough games.

2013/2014 NBA Season
40-27 (19-13 road)
Won 2
46-20 (26-6 home)
Lost 1
March 21st, 2014
American Airlines Arena in Miami, FL
6:30 PM CDT
Fox SportsSouth/ 92.9 FM ESPN
Possible Starters
Mike Conley PG Mario Chalmers
Courtney Lee SG Dwyane Wade
Tayshaun Prince SF LeBron James
Zach Randolph PF Chris Bosh
Marc Gasol C Greg Oden
2013/14 Advanced Stats
92.4 (30th) Pace 94.2 (25th)
103.0 (T-18th) OEff 109.7 (1st)
101.8 (9th) DEff 103.2 (12th)

Opponent's Blog: Hot Hot Hoops

Injury Report: Memphis: Quincy Pondexter - Foot (Out); Miami: LeBron James - Back (Questionable)

Memphis Grizzlies Tickets

Utilize Size Down Low

Miami does not have the defensive firepower in the post to shut down both Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol, thus the Grizzlies might look to feed the ball down low early and often. Miami has struggled to defend the post this season, giving up 0.93 points per possession on opponent's post ups, ranking them 28th in the league in that play category. Memphis should also look to crash the glass for second chances. The Heat are one of the worst defensive rebounding teams in the league, grabbing just 72.5% of available rebounds on that end of the floor. Gasol and Randolph are both matchup nightmares for Bosh, and it is still tough to get a feel for what Greg Oden's full capabilities on either end of the floor are.

Don't Allow LeBron to Do It All

If LeBron's back permits, he is going to get his. That's an inevitability when he is on the floor, but the Grizzlies can limit him from doing everything. If he is filling up the bucket, the Grizzlies should try to disrupt his passing lanes and prohibit him from creating for others. James orchestrating the Heat offense is a scary thought, even if he is not 100% healthy. James Johnson is a guy that has not gotten a lot of run of late, but given the task of defending a guy as big, strong, and athletic as LeBron, Joerger's hand might be forced. Fans certainly would not complain about more court time for Johnson, even if all of his energy would be expended attempting to check the best basketball player in the world.

Win the Bench Battle

The two-time defending world champions obviously have a strong roster, particularly the starting five. The Grizzlies have to find advantages against this Heat team anywhere possible, and one of those advantages might be the second unit. Given the Heat's aforementioned rebounding struggles, Kosta Koufos could have a field day. Easy second-chance points will be on Koufos' mind, and he could easily reach double-digits in the points column. Nick Calathes matches up well against a much shorter Norris Cole. Calathes should be able to get shots over Cole with ease as well as blow by him to create for others. Throw in Mike Miller and Tony Allen, two savvy vets that fill their roles extremely well, and the Grizzlies could be cooking in South Beach. Now if Joerger would just play James Johnson.

Final Prediction

Miami has struggled recently, and Memphis is less banged up than the Heat are currently. Not to mention the Grizzlies need wins far more than the Heat do at this point in the season, which should make the good guys play with a little more urgency. If LeBron's back limits him, the Grizzlies really have the upper hand. Joerger will coach a smart game, taking advantages of mismatches in the post and between the second units, leading the Grizzlies to victory.

Final Score: Memphis 101, Miami 95