Mateo’s Hoop Diary: Grizzlies Maul Heat’s Interior

When it looked like the Heat were starting to turn things around, they blew a golden opportunity to get back to .500.  Visiting the Grizzlies at the birthplace of rock and roll (Memphis), Miami continued to get outplayed in the second half by a team down three starters.


Heading into halftime for Miami, there were already bad omens.  They’d only scored eight points in the paint to the Grizzlies’ 36.  Bam Adebayo and Jimmy Butler combined for 3/11 made shots.  And the Heat’s zone was dull.  


Yet, the score read 58-51 in favor of Memphis at the intermission.  


In the last 24 minutes, Butler showed up, scoring 14 points on 71% efficiency from the floor.  Yet the rest of the outfit struggled to finish.  Memphis’ 2-3 zone neutered the Heat’s long-range shooting in the second half after giving up 45.8% in the first.


Tyler Herro went 0/5 from 3-point range in that stretch.  He also missed a wide-open triple at the top of the key as the game was tied at 68 points in the third quarter.  Yet, he was the only Heatle to play all of the final period.


Adebayo was unrecognizable. In his previous nine games before Monday’s loss, he was logging 25.3 points and 9.9 rebounds.  It’s disappointing to watch him revert to the player he was last year.  Unless he wants to get permanently labeled the “Ultimate Tease,” he should never have nights where he only takes 13 shots unless Miami is boat racing a rival.  


Bam’s confidence was likely shaken by his poor shooting (2/7) in the first half. He took one fewer try following the interlude and finished with a laid-back stat line of 15 points on 38% shooting from the field, with five rebounds and four dimes.


Kyle Lowry recorded 3/8 3-point field goals.  The problem is they were the only shots he took.  He may not have the speed he once had, but he can’t be so disinclined to score at the rim.  If he’s not taking shots inside the arc after wrapping around a screen against the drop or scoring at close range, he is doing the other team a favor.


The fourth quarter was a meltdown.  Miami kept giving up the baseline and possession of the ball, putting themselves on their backfoot defensively.  They also bricked six shots at the top of the key.  Haywood Highsmith made the only triple for the Heat in the fourth quarter as he was left open up top because of miscommunication.    


The Heat barely scored 16 points in the last 12 minutes.  


The biggest surprise of the evening was how apathetic Miami looked defensively.  Usually, the three backline players covering the paint and corners seal off the interior at the first sign of a strike.  Memphis’ Brandon Clarke, Dillon Brooks, Santi Aldama, Steven Adams and Tyus Jones feasted in the lane, making 25/32 baskets in the square.  Counting the contributions of the other Grizzlies, they ran up 64 points in the paint.  


Coach Spo gave his thoughts on the inside protection after the game.  He said, “They dominated us in the paint.  We typically do that well.  We were not able to contain dribble penetration, cuts, offensive rebounding, pick and rolls to the paint.  That just looks like a misprint, 64 points in the paint allowed. It felt like they could have had quite a few more…”


Herro spoke to reporters in the locker room.  He said the Grizzlies were too comfortable in their assault of the rim.  


The loss drops the Heat to 11-13 and places them a game behind the Toronto Raptors for eighth place in the east.


Miami’s next game is at home on Dec. 6 against the abysmal Detroit Pistons (6-19), but it’s the second night of a back-to-back.  Miami is known to play up or down, depending on the level of competition.  Which version of them takes the stage Tuesday?

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