WHEN: 7:00 CT
WHERE: FedExForum in Memphis, TN
HOW TO WATCH/LISTEN: FOX Sports Southeast/92.9 FM ESPN Memphis
MEMPHIS- Mike Conley (Out, Achilles), Wayne Selden Jr. (Out, Quad), Brandan Wright (Out, Groin)
MIAMI- Hassan Whiteside (Out, Knee)
Memphis- Tyreke Evans, Andrew Harrison, Dillon Brooks, JaMychal Green, Marc Gasol
Miami- Goran Dragic, Dion Waiters, Josh Richardson, James Johnson, Kelly Olynyk
The Memphis Grizzlies will face the Miami Heat to close out a three game home stand Monday night. After blowing double digit leads in the two previous home games, the Grizz look to put together a complete game. Memphis is 1-14 in their last 15 games, looking promising for a few quarters but hopeless for most. The good news is that the Miami Heat are not playing great basketball right now either - they are 2-4 in their last 6 games, yet coming off a convincing win over Brooklyn on Saturday night.
Injuries have set the Grizzlies back, but in Memphis we should all be used to that. Most notably, Mike Conley has sat for over a month. Things have not gone well in that period to say the least. One positive this team has learned from Conley’s absence is how to put together quality basketball in certain very limited stretches of games. The Grizzlies are actually quite competitive in the first half of most games, it’s the second half that completely falls apart.
The matchup with Miami looks to be the opposite of a shootout, (a standoff?) as both teams rank in the bottom five in the NBA for points scored. Not surprisingly, they also both rank in the top ten in points allowed. This game will resemble Memphis-style basketball of old, for better or for worse.
Though this Miami team seems to be a cast of misfits scrambled together from across the league, they play solid team defense with a commitment to ball movement on offense. Hassan Whiteside will be sidelined with a knee injury and since the Grizzlies struggle mightily rebounding, this could be a real advantage.
Here are a few keys to the game:
Move the ball, emphasis on transition offense
Memphis looks like a lower-profile Golden State when they get out in transition. There are flashes of it every game. In the last two games, the Grizz have scored 34 points in each first quarter, showing that the up-tempo style is more beneficial. This team is built around athleticism (outside of Marc Gasol) and use that brilliantly when they choose to.
For some reason, the Grizzlies often (always) lose track of this offense as the game matures. Undoubtedly, Memphis reverts back to Gasol post ups or long threes late in the shot clock. Continuing to move the ball on offense creates driving lanes for players like Tyreke Evans and James Ennis. The outside shooting isn’t great, but its obvious that open shots are higher percentage than contested ones. If the Grizzlies can speed this game up, Miami won’t be able to keep up.
Find the hot hand
I’m thinking of Chandler Parsons primarily, but whoever has it going tonight, give them the rock. Far too often the Grizzlies stick to the same monotonous offensive schemes without using different players to run the ball through. Chandler Parsons is shooting 53% from the field (!) and James Ennis is doing his best to keep up at 51% (!). By no means am I suggesting that the offense run through Ennis, but he has shown that he score, and that he has serious value on this roster.
Parsons needs more touches, simple as that. He is shooting the ball confidently and he seems to make the right play every time. Though he still looks like he has to calculate every move he makes, its working, and this team could use a change. Give him the rock.
If Gasol starts to dominate, then by all means, continue to go through him. But these 12 second post ups, seven second multiple-ball-fakes, and three-second prayers that happen way too often are growing increasingly frustrating.
Guard your man
It’s hard to criticize this Grizzlies team on defense; if there is one thing they are doing well, its playing team defense. But recently individual on-ball defense has been downright pathetic. The bigs, mainly Gasol and JaMychal Green, are having to guard three men every possession because the front court can’t hold their own. Yes, of course, I’m talking specifically about Mario Chalmers and Ben McLemore, but this has become a team issue.
The Miami Heat don’t have a superstar scoring threat, Goran Dragic is their leading scorer at 17.3 points per game. This should give the Grizzlies a good opportunity to correct the defensive mistakes that are allowing teams to continually come back from double digit deficits. Quality defense starts with individual match-ups, each man has to do their part.
Grizzlies rookie Dillon Brooks has done an admirable job game in and game out at times guarding the NBA’s elite. The rest of this seasoned roster would do well to take some notes from him, especially our free agent signed guards.
Let’s keep this optimistic, because why not?
The last two games at FedExForum have been so disappointing. Memphis fans are growing to expect the Grizz to blow big leads, and so far the team has proved us all right. The Miami Heat are not a fierce offensive juggernaut, so if Memphis can once again build a big lead, it will be harder for the Heat to mount a comeback.
Chandler Parsons will be coming back, providing more a scoring threat and solid defense, and surprises like Deyonta Davis and Andrew Harrison are improving each game. They both are taking strides forward to becoming solid contributors, this is a game they could really find a role in the rotation.
Memphis is due for a win at home, they have proven they score at will if they are in the right mindset. I see them getting their mind right for Monday night. Let’s bring home this W.
Grizzlies 107, Miami Heat 99
Stats provided by basketball-reference.com