Memphis Grizzlies Looking for Spark in Miami


Dec 7, 2014; Memphis, TN, USA; Memphis Grizzlies guard Tony Allen (9) drives against Miami Heat guard Mario Chalmers (15) during the second half at FedExForum. Memphis defeated Miami 103-87. Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

After dropping their fourth straight game on Friday night, the Memphis Grizzlies return to the hardwood on Saturday, December 27, 2014 to play the Miami Heat in South Beach.

This is the second matchup of the season between the two teams, with Memphis defeating Miami by 16 points in the first meeting.

Although the Heat won on Thursday against perhaps their biggest rival of the season–the familiar face of LeBron James–they did lose to the lowly 76ers on Tuesday.

The Memphis Grizzlies and the Miami Heat have a few similarities when looking from top to bottom. Both teams are without their starting power forwards–Zach Randolph (Memphis) and Chris Bosh (Miami). The two teams also find themselves sometimes struggling to find complete team contributions (bench production).

The Grizzlies need to end their recent losing ways immediately before they fall further down their conference’s standings, despite running into the injury bug as of late. Thankfully Tony Allen returned last game and hopefully Randolph will be back very soon.

Miami will be looking to draw their record closer to .500 and the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference, which is currently owned by the Milwaukee Bucks.

Memphis is now 21-8 on the season after losing their last four games. They own the fourth seed in the Western Conference, but could mathematically jump into a tie for second place (with Houston and Portland) with a Saturday victory.

Starting Fives (subject to change)

MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES: Mike Conley (point guard), Courtney Lee (shooting guard), Tony Allen (small forward), Jon Leuer (power forward), Marc Gasol (center)

MIAMI HEAT: Mario Chalmers (point guard), Dwyane Wade (shooting guard), Luol Deng (small forward), Shawne Williams (power forward), Chris Andersen (center)

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  • Things to Watch

    1. Can Wade be contained?
    2. Play through Memphis’ bigs
    3. Close out on shooters
    4. Rebound!
    5. Silence the crowd
    6. Fresh legs

    Determining Factors

    • Dwyane Wade is currently averaging over 23 points per game on more than 50% shooting. He is also averaging 5.5 assists per game. Wade needs to be the main focus on defense, yet not the only focus since the Heat have many shooters on their squad. If D-Wade is contained, there is a great chance the Grizzlies will snap the four-game losing streak. Tony Allen and Courtney Lee will be largely responsible for shutting down Wade with their classic grit-and-grind defense. Vince Carter will need to defend while providing an offensive counterbalance, as he has been doing lately for the Grizz.
    • The Memphis Grizzlies may have a field day against the Heat on Saturday in the paint, even with Randolph being sidelined. Marc Gasol needs to receive the basketball in the post on almost every possession that he is on the court. The Heat are without their entire starting frontcourt, Chris Bosh and Josh McRoberts, so Jon Leuer and Kosta Koufos might join Gasol in having big contributions. The Heat will be utilizing 6’9″ Shawne Williams (has been typically a wing player) and 6’10” Chris Andersen to defend in the paint–a clear advantage in terms of height and overall production for the Grizzlies.
    • The Grizzlies have been struggling with defending the three-point line lately. Memphis must contest shots and not give open looks to the Heat if they want to end their losing streak on Saturday. Miami has a plethora of sharpshooters, including Luol Deng, Danny Granger, Mario Chalmers, and Norris Cole.
    • Besides having LeBron James on their team for the past several years prior to this season, the Miami Heat found much of their franchise’s success by grabbing rebounds–especially on offensive boards. This fuels Miami’s players, such as Chris “Birdman” Andersen, and gives the team energy. This brings up the next point.
    • The Heat normally have strong attendance and their P.A. Announcer along with the team’s D.J. are always keeping the crowd involved. The Grizzlies need to limit the opportunities for the Heat fanbase to make some noise so that the Heat players do not gain any extra confidence on Miami’s home floor.
    • After playing yet another overtime game on Friday night, the Memphis Grizzlies may need to give a few less minutes to some of their players that saw 30+ minutes against the Houston Rockets. Jordan Adams, Jarnell Stokes, and Nick Calathes might get some burn in South Beach in order to provide some fresh legs and more energy.

    Key Notes

    •  Marc Gasol had his worst scoring game (two points) versus the Heat earlier this month.
    • Jon Leuer came off the bench to lead the Grizzlies in scoring (20 points) in the last meeting versus the Heat.
    • Dwyane Wade registered 25 points and six assists in the first meeting with Memphis.
    • Marc Gasol is coming off of a 29-point and eight-rebound effort in Friday night’s loss to Houston.
    • Memphis is currently fifth-best in the NBA in points allowed per game at 97.0, while Miami is eighth-best at 97.6.
    • Memphis stands sixth-best in the NBA in field goal percentage–making 46.6% of their total attempts.
    • With a Grizz win, Memphis will sweep the season series with the Heat 2-0.

    Injury Report

    The Memphis Grizzlies list power forward Zach Randolph as being day-to-day with a sore knee.

    The Miami Heat are listing power power forward Chris Bosh out with a calf strain. Forward/center Josh McRoberts is out with a season-ending injury.

    Personal Prediction

    Memphis desperately needs to win this game. With Miami coming off of a big victory on Christmas Day and the Grizzlies playing without Z-Bo, this game will be more difficult than it would have been a couple weeks ago. These Grizzlies are hungrier than ever this season after Friday night’s tough loss, so I predict the Memphis Grizzlies winning by five points–ending the series of losses and hopefully creating another long and prosperous winning streak.

    Game Time

    This battle will tip off at 6:30 P.M. (Memphis time) in Miami, Florida and can be seen locally on SportSouth television or nationally on NBATV. The game can be heard on WMFS radio.

    Go Grizz!