While few teams, if any, can put on three players like LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh on the floor at the same time, the Miami Heat and its title hopes rely on the ability of role, bench and fringe players as well, like Ray Allen, someone who has seen a thing or two in his NBA days, and proving his worth in a 91-86 win over the Memphis Grizzlies.
The Heat found themselves chasing the Grizzlies throughout the fourth quarter until the turning of the tide with 1:47 left in the game. Dwyane Wade came up with the steal of an awful pass from Mike Conley, leading to a Chris Bosh misses which Wade rebounded and finished the play under the basket, tying the game at 84. He hit a couple of free throws a possession later and LeBron James sealed the deal a minute later, nailing a jumper everyone knew he was going to take.
Ray Allen with 18 points was the top scorer for the Miami Heat, followed by LeBron James, scoring 15 points to go with six rebounds and 7 assists. Both Mario Chalmers and Dwyane Wade had 14 points in a game against a stubborn and excellent defensive team, getting a big night from Zach Randolph, finishing with 25 points and 14 rebounds.
The Heat once again started with Greg Oden, who is going to be in that role until the end of the regular season unless he’s rested from time to time. Oden played 12 minutes, scoring 5 points. However, the Heat usually looked better when he was off the court, looking a bit slow and sluggish, especially on the defensive end, not providing the kind of big body that clogs the lane and keeps Gasol and Randolph out of the paint.
It’s hard to say the Heat got lucky with Gasol’s injury. He did leave in the third quarter, but Memphis were only +1 during his minutes. The Grizzlies lost the game because of turnovers, not because their best player got hurt and might once again be forced to miss some games, which is going to be crucial in the final push to make the postseason.
This wasn’t a pretty game from the Heat, not on offense. Despite turning the ball over 15 times, the Grizzlies don’t leave too much room for transition and fast break, which meant the Heat looked stuck more than once with their half court offense, without anyone really trying to force himself on the game. They did go a bit too much with Chris Bosh, who kept on taking those long jumpers (but also had problems in the paint, rushing his shot a bit), finishing with 4-of-15 from the field and scoring 11 points.
The defense looked like the kind the Miami Heat have been so proud of these last three seasons, but the Grizzlies are exactly the kind of team that makes things very complicated. Straightforward isn’t always easy to stop when someone like Randolph is in the zone, but it makes things less complicated, and doesn’t stretch the Heat’s defense in a way that makes it vulnerable.