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Grizzlies take on Heat today in Miami

The last time the Memphis Grizzlies saw the Miami Heat, the visitors were walking off the FedExForum court after Rudy Gay sank a game-winning jumper over LeBron James as time expired to give Memphis a 97-95 win. But both clubs look a little different now than they did back on Nov. 20. For starters, Rudy Gay remains inactive for the tenth game due to a left shoulder subluxation suffered just before the All-Star Break. To help fill the void during Rudy’s absence, the Grizzlies turned to a familiar face in Shane Battier, who was acquired from Houston at the trade deadline and has provided a spark off the bench for the Grizz. The Heat have since re-stocked as well. Aside from missing Dwyane Wade in the first meeting, the Heat will have help from a couple former Grizzlies. Mike Miller missed the Nov. 20 contest due to a thumb injury, while the Grizzlies all-time leader in assists per game, Mike Bibby, signed with Miami earlier this month and is carving out a role on his new club. Forget the familiar faces, though, the Grizzlies are hoping for a familiar result in their second matchup with the Heat.

Take a look at some of the keys to the game:

The Miami Heat put an end to their much-publicized skid in convincing fashion, beating the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday to earn a season series sweep over the defending champions. The question remains, though, as to whether that one win is all the Heat need to get back on track. Meanwhile, the Grizzlies found themselves on the wrong end of a buzzer-beat Wednesday night, when Carmelo Anthony and the Knicks escaped from Memphis victorious. The Grizzlies will face a tall task in avoiding consecutive losses.

Nearly 70 percent of Miami’s offense this season has come from its trio of stars. Memphis will need its much-improved bench to make an impact, particularly when either Chris Bosh, LeBron James or Dwyane Wade take a breather. The onus will fall on Darrell Arthur, Shane Battier and O.J. Mayo to outscore the Heat’s struggling second-unit and take some pressure off the starters. Of course, rather than outscore the Heat’s big three, the Grizzlies could always try to stop them. Chances are, at least one of the three will have a big game regardless, but Memphis has to feel pretty good about using defensive stoppers Tony Allen and Shane Battier on the Heat’s wing players—James and Wade. Down-low, Marc Gasol’s overlooked defense could help contain Bosh and be the difference in the game.

The Heat will look to feed off the energy of the home crowd and the momentum of their statement win over Los Angeles on Thursday, but if they build an early lead, all is not lost for the Grizzlies. Memphis has won eight games this season when trailing by double-digits at some point in the second half. Only the Utah Jazz (10) and Chicago Bulls (9) have pulled off more second-half comebacks in the NBA this season.