WHERE: American Airlines in Miami, FL
WHEN: 6:30 PM CT
HOW TO WATCH/LISTEN: FOX Sports Southeast/92.9 FM ESPN Memphis
MEMPHIS- Mario Chalmers (Questionable, ankle), Tyreke Evans (Questionable, rib), Mike Conley (Out, heel), Chandler Parsons (Out, illness), Wayne Selden Jr. (Out, knee)
MIAMI- Dion Waiters (Out, ankle), Kelly Olynyk (Out, shoulder)
PROJECTED STARTING LINEUP-
MEMPHIS- Mario Chalmers, Andrew Harrison, Dillon Brooks, JaMychal Green, Marc Gasol
MIAMI- Goran Dragic, Tyler Johnson, Josh Richardson, Justise Winslow, Hassan Whiteside
Most teams use the All-Star break to gain rest and regroup before their playoff push. The Memphis Grizzlies are not most teams.
Their opponent tonight, the Miami Heat, is one of those teams, Memphis will have a different set of priorities. As Miami fights in a congested East playoff race for a spot and seeding, Memphis is fighting in a congested lottery field for the best draft pick possible. After losing 8 games in a row, they’re putting up a good fight.
But the rebuilding process doesn’t mean throwing games, it means trying new things and discovering more and more about your talent going forward. With Brandan Wright and James Ennis no longer with the team, that leaves minutes to be had by any of the flyers the Grizzlies have on their roster.
After Tyreke Evans’ rib injury there could be an even bigger role to be filled, one with plenty of usage to show off. Memphis should be focused on filling those three roles and being as competitive as they can be every night. For a full 48 minutes. The Grizz can have good stretches where they’re competitive against any team in the league--for a half or maybe three quarters. But just like last night’s affair, putting together an entire game is a problem for Memphis.
Memphis is on the second night of a back-to-back, but so is Miami. And the Heat also have to travel for this game after losing an overtime game visiting the New Orleans Pelicans. So home-court advantage may just be a phrase Saturday night.
As Memphis look to grab just their sixth road win of the season, here’s what they need to do give them the best chance available--or at least look competitive--against a Miami Heat team that has lost 7 of their last 8.
Take Advantage of Turnovers
Miami and Memphis are both turnover-laden offenses. But Memphis makes up for turnovers on the defensive end almost 1:1. Memphis averages 14.7 turnovers per game while forcing 14.6. Miami, on the other hand, averages 14.9 and 13.4, respectively. Memphis is also 8th in defensive turnover percentage while Miami ranks 28th in offensive turnover percentage. It could be a perfect storm for Memphis to win the turnover battle and give them a larger margin of error to win.
Those extra turnovers could be hugely beneficial to the offense. The possibility of easy transition points should be plenty of motivation for a team starving for buckets and 26th in offensive rating.
Newfound Scoring Punch
Someone, please, step up in this game. This roster is held on by a thread by Tyreke Evans, and he may not be there to do so Saturday night. If he does play, he definitely won’t be 100%. To be as competitive as possible, 100% Tyreke Evans is what we need. Scoring is already so, so tough for the Memphis Grizzlies. We just need one fortunate night of shooting at a time.
Mario Chalmers might start to take his place, which is excellent in terms of tanking, not-so-excellent if you’re looking for scoring from a 37.5% field goal shooter. Dillon Brooks, JaMychal Green, or even Andrew Harrison, who dropped his career high right before the All-Star break, playing above their means is almost a necessity to beat the Miami Heat, who have consistently played above their means for years.
Both teams are in a bad place right now. Neither can be feeling too hot about themselves after coming back from the All-Star Break to face yet another loss.
But Miami is the better team. Better coach, better defense, and better young talent. The Heat have lots of 2nd rounders and flyers like the Grizzlies, but they all bloom in Miami. It gives them great depth and defensive versatility, two areas the Grizzlies would kill for. Those might be the edge for Miami if it becomes a close game late. Oh and not having Tyreke Evans could end up making this a blowout in Miami’s favor. Either way, they take this Saturday night contest.
Miami Heat 93 Memphis Grizzlies 81