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Grizzlies vs. Heat: How Memphis Defense Can Stop LeBron

MEMPHIS, TN - NOVEMBER 20:  LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat drives against Rudy Gay #22 of the Memphis Grizzlies at FedExForum on November 20, 2010 in Memphis, Tennessee.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2010 NBAE  (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
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Aaron Siegal-EismanFeatured ColumnistMarch 1, 2013

The Memphis Grizzlies head out on the road to face the Miami Heat in a big Friday night showdown.

The Grizzlies currently sit in fourth place in the Western Conference, just five-and-a-half games behind the first-place San Antonio Spurs.

The Heat have one of the best records in the NBA and are on a 12-game winning streak.

In the first meeting between these two teams in November, the Grizzlies defeated the Heat 104-86 in Memphis. Since then, both teams have improved, turning into title contenders.

This time the Grizzlies have to go down to Miami and pull out a victory in a very tough environment. This season, the Heat have a 25-3 record at the American Airlines Arena.

One of the main ways to beat the Heat is to stop LeBron James.

It's easier said than done.

The good news is that Grizzlies rank first in the league in scoring defense, allowing just 89.5 points per game. James is having one of his best seasons of his career. He is averaging 27.3 points, 8.1 rebounds and 7.3 assists per game. If the Grizzlies are going to win tonight, then they need a solid game plan against James.

Here are two ways the Memphis defense can stop LeBron:

 

Contest LeBron's shot throughout the game

The main reason why the Grizzlies beat the Heat in November was because they limited LeBron to 20 points.

The Grizzlies did a very good job of contesting most of LeBron's shots, which led to nine missed shots in the game. Former Grizzlies forward Rudy Gay was one of the main defenders on LeBron last time, but now he's on the Toronto Raptors.

This time, power forward Zach Randolph needs to do a good job of sticking on LeBron and making sure that he doesn't take any easy shots. His teammates need to be there to help because of Gay's absence in the lineup.

If the Grizzlies can limit LeBron's touches and play solid on-ball defense, then they should be in good shape.

 

Take the paint away from LeBron

Last time these two teams played each other, 13 of LeBron's 19 shots came from inside the paint.

The Grizzlies need to close out the paint and force LeBron to take mid-range jump shots. He has shown throughout the season that if you give up the paint, then he can make easy baskets and exploit the opposing teams' defense.

The Grizzlies have to make sure that they are closing out the driving lanes to make sure that LeBron doesn’t get inside on their defense. LeBron is a much better player from inside the paint than outside.

If the Grizzlies make it their mission to stop LeBron from getting inside the paint, then it will increase their chances of winning.    

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