Memphis Grizzlies at Miami HEAT Game Preview

Photo Credit: Issac Baldizon

The Miami HEAT host the Memphis Grizzlies Saturday night at AmericanAirlines Arena. Get your tickets now! Tip-off is set for 5:00 PM, and television coverage is on FOX Sports Sun. You can also listen to the action live on 790 The Ticket.

1: How was Miami able to beat the Celtics by double digits?

Couper Moorhead: Thursday’s win is interesting to consider in the context of another recent game against an opponent on a tough back-to-back. When Milwaukee visited a couple weeks ago having played in Boston the night before, they understandably had some trouble making shots. But Miami also had a very specific scheme ready for them and Giannis Antetokounmpo, and at no point in that game did the Bucks look comfortable in their offense. It was a forceful victory that was all about what Miami did well.

The win against the Celtics, who also played in Boston the night before, didn’t quite feel the same. Which isn’t to say Miami did anything poorly or didn’t earn the game, it simply felt like more of a normal, formulaic game without anything particularly exceptional standing out outside of the team hitting a season-high 18 threes after they had struggled from the perimeter for the past week. It was a convincing victory, but next time these teams play and we ask whether we learned much about this matchup from this game, the answer will probably be no.

Joe Beguiristain: Simply put, they moved the ball well and hit their threes.

In fact, the HEAT recorded a season-high 33 assists, including a career-high 11 dimes from Justise Winslow, and hit a season-high 18 treys as a result. And while the Celtics got within eight points late in the third quarter after Miami led by as many as 26, Dwyane Wade responded to keep Miami ahead.

That said, Winslow and Derrick Jones Jr. also did their thing on the defensive end to make sure the HEAT kept a stranglehold on the game. In particular, Winslow locked down Jayson Tatum for most of the evening, while Jones Jr. made things as tough as possible on Kyrie Irving.

To be fair, Boston playing on a back-to-back might have hindered things, but the schedule is the schedule.

Josh Richardson2: What did we learn about this matchup the last time these teams met?

Couper: It was an interesting time for these teams to play one another, as it came right around when Miami was re-focusing their defense on protecting the paint while slowing down their own offense a bit after playing with a bit more pace earlier in the season. So playing Memphis, with Justise Winslow settling into his role as the starting point guard, was almost perfect at the time as it wound up being the slowest game of the season but Miami still put up an Offensive Rating of 111.1 because even in such a grind-it-out game, the HEAT were still able to generate 39 threes and hit 15 of them to sustain their overall attack. Memphis was also able to score reasonably well, despite poor three-point shooting, because they got to the free-throw line and kept their turnovers down, but there’s little reason to think this game should play out differently, stylistically playing.

The Grizzlies may be slipping of late at 4-11 in their last 15 games, but this promises to be a game that comes down to half-court execution.

Joe: That last matchup against Memphis was similar to the win over Boston in that Miami kept the ball moving to neutralize one of the league’s best defenses. But on the flip side of things, the Grizzlies found success offensively before the HEAT closed things out down the stretch and held Memphis to 33.3 percent shooting in the fourth.

And at the end of the day, the Grizzlies’ offense begins and ends with Mike Conley and Marc Gasol. As a matter of fact, Memphis scores just 95 points per 100 possessions when Conley is off the court. And that number doesn’t get much better when Gasol is off the floor, as the Grizzlies score only 96.7 points per 100 in that predicament.

So, if the HEAT can limit those two Saturday night (Jones Jr. did a great job against Conley in that last meeting), they’ll have a great chance to end their homestand on a high note.

3: Does Memphis’ recent trade for Justin Holiday change anything?

Couper: Just about a week ago the Grizzlies traded MarShon Brooks, Wayne Selden and a second-round pick to the Chicago Bulls for Holiday, who most HEAT fans will remember for hitting threes in bunches against Miami in recent years. Holiday hasn’t done much so far, averaging less than 20 minutes per game and yet to hit a three, but he’s there to shoot for a team that is No. 24 in three-point percentage and No. 25 in three-point volume. So, simply as a player who fills a specific need, Holiday could certainly affect this matchup, especially when Miami did so much of its work last time against the Memphis bench, which hit just two triples all of that game. This will only be Holiday’s fourth game with the team, but he may play a bigger role, even in moderate minutes, than you might expect.

Joe: It does.

Although Holiday has yet to make his mark in Memphis, he brings shooting to a team that desperately needs it. For the season, the Grizzlies are ranked in the bottom third in both three-point attempts and percentage on those looks. And with Dillon Brooks now out, things are even tougher. But if Holiday can get going along with JaMychal Green, Memphis should be able to improve in that area.

STATUS UPDATE: Hassan Whiteside (Illness) is out.

Grizzlies at HEAT Head To Head

Game Notes:

  • The HEAT have won three straight against the Grizzlies, including a 100-97 victory on Dec. 14.
  • Miami is 20-20, while Memphis enters the contest at 19-22.
  • The HEAT have hit 474 threes this season, accounting for 33.4 percent of their total points, which is the highest percentage of points coming from downtown in franchise history.
  • Mike Conley leads the Grizzlies in points (20.1), assists (6.2) and steals (1.3) per game.

Efficiencies (Rank):

  • HEAT Offense: 106.8 (22)
  • HEAT Defense: 105.9 (7)
  • Grizzlies Offense: 104.2 (26)
  • Grizzlies Defense: 105.4 (6)

For live in-game updates of Saturday night’s contest, follow @MiamiHEAT, @CoupNBA and @JoeBeguiristain on Twitter.

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