Having LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh simply doesn’t cut it. Coming in unprepared, possibly lazy to a very tough road game on a difficult six game road trip didn’t leave the Miami Heat a chance, hurt once more by letting a team have its way from beyond the arc.
No one expected Wayne Ellington to hit seven three pointers, and no one on the Miami Heat team expected the Grizzlies to rain down 14 tres, hitting 58.3% of their shots from the outside. Every time the Heat got close came a barrage of threes from Ellington, Mike Conley and Rudy Gay. The Heat planned for a slug fest with Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph in the paint, but got treated to a completely different thing.
This isn’t the first time they got stunned by the Grizzlies, now winners of 3 of 4 against the Heat since the beginning of the big three era. Memphis don’t have the consistency offensively to keep these kind of performances on the long run, or at least they couldn’t the last couple of seasons, but they can seriously dent the Heat’s armor in regular season games. In a similar fashion to what the Knicks did in the Heat’s first loss of the season.
Instead of working the inside, they were simply passing more and more, looking for the open man. Miami’s small-ball team is also a gambling one on defense, trapping the players they think will be causing big trouble (Gasol and Randolph in this case) and relying on their quick reaction to be able to cover the open man on the outside. There was no one to reach Ellington as he kept drowning shots as the Grizzlies ran away with the game in the second quarter and the fourth.
And there’s also the Heat’s offense, which lacked the energy you’d expect from them in a big game like this one. Once again, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, not at 100%, looked a bit lazy and hesitant to go full steam. You can’t be the best you can be each night in a 82-game regular season or you’ll burn out, but as James said, this game was theirs for the taking on more than one occasion.
You go into the game with a game plan, and it was there for the taking. The game plan coming in was to protect the paint, we paid for it today, though. They shot the ball well. That’s where we’ve lost games so far. We lost because a team shot the ball extremely well.
People shouldn’t be surprised at how good the Grizzlies are. Each season, when the playoffs approach, people keep talking about them (at least during the last couple of years) as the dark horse contenders before they fall a bit too early to their taste. Against a team like that, there’s no reason to be lazy and complacent. Still, it felt like the Miami Heat were saving their strengths and accepting a loss right from the get go.
Having Dwyane Wade on an awful night of 3-15, with only 8 points, didn’t help. LeBron James finished with 20 points, 10 rebounds and 6 assists. Still, you can’t help but wonder if they cut themselves too much of slack while settling for tough jumpers instead of trying to work harder and find a way to the Grizzlies basket. It’s only a November regular season game, but bad habits can be addictive, and cost you dearly when they show up once more in April.