WHEN: 4:00 PM CT
WHERE: American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida
HOW TO WATCH/LISTEN: Fox Sports Southeast/92.9 FM ESPN Memphis
MEMPHIS: Dillon Brooks (Out, toe)
MIAMI: Goran Dragic (Out, knee)
PROBABLE STARTING LINEUPS:
MEMPHIS: Mike Conley, Garrett Temple, Kyle Anderson, Jaren Jackson Jr., Marc Gasol
MIAMI: Justise Winslow, Josh Richardson, Rodney McGruder, James Johnson, Hassan Whiteside
The Memphis Grizzlies are in Miami this afternoon for an early evening showdown with the Heat. Miami is currently, despite only being 20-20, the six seed in the Eastern Conference playoff picture, while Memphis is three games out of the playoff hunt at the moment at 19-22. The Heat are one of the more unique teams in the NBA, trotting out Justise Winslow at point guard (he is surprisingly good at it) and playing at least 10 players at least 15 or so minutes a night. There is no “superstar” on the roster, but there is depth, and a lot of length from top to bottom. There is also impressive bench scoring - Miami’s reserves, led by Dwyane Wade in his final season, Tyler Johnson, and Dion Waiters, can keep pace with most team’s starters when it comes to putting points on the board.
It could be a long night for Memphis if their bench can’t keep up. Here’s how to win the game-
- LIMIT SECOND CHANCES - This Heat team, while better than the Grizzlies offensively, is not that much better. They are 21st in the NBA in offensive rating, and a not-so-good 28th in the NBA in field goal percentage. They are good, however, at gathering offensive rebounds - they’re 4th in the Association in that category. Between the trio of Whiteside, Bam Adebayo, and Derrick Jones, the Heat grab almost eight offensive rebounds a game. Those second and even third chances on that end need to be limited by Memphis so a similarly struggling offense doesn’t get to try again at the rim.
- BE SMART IN ASSIGNMENTS- The Winslow-at-point-guard experiment for Miami has been surprisingly effective, with Justise showing better facilitation skills than you’d expect. With this starting lineup, the shortest player on the floor for the Heat to start the game will be 6’4” Rodney McGruder. If the Grizzlies try to be traditional in their alignments, Mike Conley on Winslow will not end well defensively. Finding the places where mismatches will probably occur on the offensive side of things, while negating the defensive issues in positionless defensive assignments (Conley on McGruder, Temple on Richardson, Anderson on Winslow), will be key in the chess match between J.B. Bickerstaff and Erik Spoelstra.
Miami plays in much easier Eastern Conference (26th in strength of schedule according to basketball-reference.com while Memphis is 4th) and while they are balanced in their attack, there is no one player who can dominate a game in a variety of ways for 48 minutes. Marc Gasol showed he can do that against the Spurs, and Mike Conley has been very good-to-excellent all season long.
In a gritty, grindy, in the mud affair, the Heat will miss Dragic as Conley and company keep the good vibes going to start the most important 10-game stretch of their season.
Memphis 98, Miami 95