WHERE: FedExForum in Memphis, Tennessee
WHEN: 7:00 PM CT
HOW TO WATCH/LISTEN: Fox Sports Southeast/92.9 FM ESPN Memphis
MEMPHIS: Mike Conley (Probable, hamstring), Dillon Brooks (Out, knee), Jevon Carter (Out, knee) Chandler Parsons (Out, knee)
MIAMI: Goran Dragic (Questionable, knee), Dion Waiters (Out, ankle)
PROBABLE STARTING LINEUPS:
MEMPHIS: Mike Conley, Garrett Temple, Kyle Anderson, Jaren Jackson Jr., Marc Gasol
MIAMI: Tyler Johnson, Josh Richardson, Rodney McGruder, James Johnson, Hassan Whiteside
The Grizzlies snapped a mini two game losing streak with a big win over the Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday. Meanwhile the Heat are on a two game losing skid of their own as they travel to FedExForum. The Heat seem to be stuck in NBA purgatory. They have enough talent to be a middle of the road team, especially in the Eastern conference, but nobody really considers them a threat in the playoffs. Meanwhile, their books are about capped out due to big contracts for mediocre players like Tyler Johnson, Dion Waiters and Hassan Whiteside.
Despite the concerns about the Heat’s future, they are still a formidable opponent on a nightly basis. Though lacking a true “star”, the Heat have a handful of players who can take over on any given night to keep things interesting.
Here’s what the Grizzlies need to do to secure a win tonight.
Slow the Tempo
Both the Grizzlies (4th) and Heat (9th) rank in the top 10 in defensive rating so far on the season. Neither team scores a ton, but the biggest difference is the play styles. The Heat have a top 10 pace while the Grizzlies are unsurprisingly dead last in pace. It has been well documented how good this Grizzlies team is defensively when locked in, with Wednesday night against Portland as an obvious example (minus CJ McCollum’s outburst). The Heat have the worst field goal percentage in the NBA, so if the Grizzlies can slow the game down it will limit the scoring opportunities for the Heat. The Heat struggle scoring the ball when in a slow paced game, so look for the Grizzlies to keep things “in the mud” to limit the Heat’s scoring opportunities.
Dwyane Wade will be making his final appearance inside FedExForum tonight as part of his “retirement tour” before he hangs up his basketball shoes for good at the end of the season. Wade has embraced a bench role with the Heat but is still a pretty big part of their overall gameplan. Over his career, Wade has averaged 20 points against the Grizzlies and still has that offensive firepower in him. Last Saturday the Grizzlies were starstruck against Lebron and the Lakers. They’ll need to make sure they stay focused in slowing Wade down instead of ball watching one of the NBA’s legends.
The Grizzlies should be able to come away with a relatively easy win against a Heat team that may be without Goran Dragic. Unfortunately, nothing is ever easy with the Grizzlies and with guys like Josh Richardson and Dwyane Wade capable of going off any given night, I’m more concerned about this game than I probably should be. The Heat are expected to get Hassan Whiteside back, which I think makes them worse because it typically means less minutes for Bam Adebayo. The Heat will keep this game closer than Grizz fans would like for most of the game, but I expect the defense to shut the Heat down late in the game to pull away in the last 5 minutes.
Grizzlies 99, Heat 89