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Memphis Grizzlies vs. Miami Heat Game Preview

The Grizzlies take on the Heat following last night’s victory in Detroit

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Miami Heat v Memphis Grizzlies Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images

WHO: Memphis Grizzlies (14-9, 8-2 home) vs. Miami Heat (11-12, 3-8 away)

WHEN: 7:00 PM CT

WHERE: FedExForum in Memphis, TN

HOW TO WATCH/LISTEN: Bally Sports Southeast/92.9 FM ESPN Memphis


MEMPHIS: Steven Adams (Questionable, hip), Jaren Jackson Jr. (Questionable, return from injury management), Jake LaRavia (Doubtful, foot), Desmond Bane (Out, toe), Danny Green (Out, knee), Ziaire Williams (Out, patellar tendinitis)

MIAMI: Tyler Herro (Probable, ankle), Haywood Highsmith (Probable, ankle), Duncan Robinson (Probable, ankle), Max Strus (Probable, shoulder), Jimmy Butler (Questionable, knee), Dewayne Dedmon (Questionable, foot), Gabe Vincent (Questionable, knee), Jamal Cain (Out, G League Assignment), Nikola Jovic (Out, G League Assignment), Victor Oladipo (Out, knee), Dru Smith (Out, G League Assignment), Omer Yurtseven (Out, ankle)


MEMPHIS: Ja Morant, John Konchar, Dillon Brooks, Santi Aldama, Steven Adams

MIAMI: Kyle Lowry, Tyler Herro, Jimmy Butler, Caleb Martin, Bam Adebayo

The Grizzlies return home from last night’s victory in Detroit with a quick turnaround as they’re set to face off against the Miami Heat. The Heat’s injury report is incredibly long, but I would expect all players listed as probable or questionable to suit up for Miami for tonight’s showdown. On the Memphis’ side, there isn’t much clarity on the injury report with the team not required to have an official report until later today. It is pure speculation on my end, but I think the Grizzlies held Steven Adams out last night to keep him fresh for tonight’s matchup, while also using it as a chance to offset the potential absence of Jaren Jackson Jr. — if he’s still not cleared to play in back-to-backs. Naturally, if Jaren plays or if Ziaire gets a surprise step up on the injury report, it only benefits the Grizzlies.

The Heat enter the matchup after struggling out of the gate but are winners of 4 of their last 5, splitting a two game set in Boston prior to tonight. The Heat have gotten healthy and therefore have gotten hot in recent weeks and will look to take advantage of the rest advantage tonight against the Grizzlies.

Here are some keys to tonight’s matchup.

Dominate the Glass

Miami Heat v Memphis Grizzlies Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images

The Grizzlies lead the NBA in rebounds per game, averaging 49.1 rebounds per game this season. The Heat, meanwhile, are the 4th worst team rebounding the ball as they average just 41.2 rebounds per game. Steven Adams does a lot of the rebounding duties for the Grizzlies, so his availability is crucial in this regard but it will also be important for the Grizzlies guards to crash the glass and push the tempo. The Heat are good defensively with Jimmy Butler on the wing, Bam Adebayo patrolling the paint and Kyle Lowry being a pest everywhere. The Grizzlies will need to push the tempo to get easy baskets while also setting Steven Adams up for offensive putbacks in the half court. If the Grizzlies can run away with the rebounding battle, it’ll likely point to them having an advantage on the scoreboard.

Win the turnover battle

Miami Heat v Memphis Grizzlies Photo by Justin Ford/Getty Images

The Miami Heat are very good defensively at turning the opposing team over, as they force 16.3 turnovers per game. The Grizzlies haven’t been quite as good as they’ve been in years past, forcing just 14.2 opponent turnovers per game so far this season. Both teams take good care of the ball, turning it over around 14 times per game. The team that is able to force the other into more mistakes, especially if it results in fast break points, could come out on top. Despite forcing a few more turnovers per game than the Grizzlies, Miami scores 6 less fast break points per game than Memphis. With Miami’s preferred style of play is to slow things down, the more Memphis can make the Heat uncomfortable and get easy shot opportunities the better. In what could ultimately be a low scoring affair, easy points off turnovers could be what swings the game to one team or the other.

The Prediction

Miami Heat v Memphis Grizzlies Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images

In case you couldn’t tell, I think controlling the pace of the game is critical in tonight’s game. The Grizzlies are middle of the pack in pace, but the Heat are bottom five, preferring to slow the game down and limit possessions. With Des and potentially JJJ out tonight, I’m not sure the Grizzlies can afford to play at Miami’s pace on the offensive end. The Heat have the defenders in Butler and Bam to make things difficult for Ja in the pick and roll. Guys like Dillon Brooks and John Konchar will need to step up on the wing and take some of the pressure off of Ja, particularly if JJJ is out.

If Jaren Jackson Jr. does play, one thing I’m excited to see is both him and Bam anchoring their respective teams on the defensive end. Both players will likely be in the running for Defensive Player of the Year awards as long as they stay healthy, so watching them battle would be fun.

Both teams are streaky from beyond the arc, but the Grizzlies will need to make sure none of the Miami shooters like Herro, Strus or Robinson (who had 29 points on 5-7 from deep in the preseason against Memphis) to go off.

Ultimately, I think one of Miami’s shooters gets going a bit too much and with 4 games in 6 nights, I think the Grizzlies struggle on the second night of a back-to-back. The Grizzlies are 0-2 so far this season in the second night of a back-to-back, and Miami is just enough of a matchup problem to push the Grizzlies to 0-3.

Miami 112, Memphis 105

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