Memphis Grizzlies vs. Miami Heat: Postgame Grades and Analysis for Miami
The Heat snapped the Grizzlies' eight-game winning streak, and they did so in spite of a very slow start from LeBron James—who had just four points in the first three quarters.
Fighting off a rough start, LeBron scored 14 points in the fourth quarter and hit a pivotal three-ball to put the Heat up four points with 24 seconds left in the game.
It's certainly encouraging to see the Heat win a close game, especially with LeBron amping up his play when it counted the most.
The Heat weren't perfect, though, giving up 24 points to Marc Gasol and letting the Grizzlies hang around for the entire game.
Friday night's close, physical and somewhat-ugly win against Memphis was a great warm-up for the Heat's Sunday showdown with the New York Knicks, and it was a solid win overall.
Point Guard: Mario Chalmers
Mario Chalmers wasn't anything special Friday night, but that's unfortunately becoming the norm for the fifth-year man out of Kansas.
He only played 18 minutes, which shows the Heat's focus on getting Ray Allen and Norris Cole into the game, and in those minutes, he accounted for nine points on 50-percent shooting.
While that's not awful production, it's certainly not what the Heat want or need from their starting point guard. As of late, the Heat have found ways to win without Chalmers putting up solid numbers, but that might not be the case as we move toward the start of the playoffs.
Chalmers will continue to be the Heat's starting point guard, but his minutes may continue to decrease because Ray Allen is simply doing more than him on the hardwood.
While he wasn't awful, this kind of performance is a microcosm of the disappointing year Chalmers has been having—mainly because he's just not putting up the well-balanced production we all thought he would.
Overall Grade: C
Final Stat Line: 9 points, 2 assists, 1 steal, 50.0 FG%
Shooting Guard: Dwyane Wade
Dwyane Wade picked up the slack for LeBron James, which was the main reason why they were able to escape with their 13th straight win.
While Wade wasn't a major factor late in the final quarter, scoring just four points in the fourth, he ended the night with 22 points, eight assists and four rebounds.
The best part of Wade's performance was his shot selection, which resulted in a 56.3-percent shooting night from the floor.
Throughout the first three quarters, Wade was the main man for the Heat, carrying them in a defensive struggle that wasn't pretty at times.
It's encouraging to see Wade's impressive level of efficiency over the Heat's 13-game winning streak. And it's also encouraging to see how he tweaked his game to compensate for LeBron James' weak performance early on.
Being 100-percent healthy has clearly given Wade his quickness and agility back, and it's showing because he's playing at an impressive rate that seems to be next to impossible to stop.
Overall Grade: A
Final Stat Line: 22 points, 8 assists, 4 rebounds, 2 steals, 1 block, 56.3 FG%
Small Forward: LeBron James
It's official. LeBron James proved Friday night that he is indeed a human being—even with a double-double in the box score.
There's no way around his shooting struggles, as he converted just 28.6 percent from the floor.
He made up for it with 10 assists and his ice-cold dagger from the three-point line with just 24 seconds left on the clock in the fourth that put the Heat up by four. And he even sealed the game by hitting four straight free throws late in the fourth.
LeBron also proved that he can score in the fourth quarter—scoring 14 of his 18 points in the last 12 minutes of the game.
Instead of just continuing to jack up shot after shot while he struggled from the field, LeBron adjusted his game a bit, getting to the line and focusing on facilitating the offense for his teammates late in the game.
He was two rebounds away from a triple-double, and considering that he had just four points through three quarters, that's pretty impressive.
It wasn't pretty for LeBron, but you know what they say about champions—they find ways to win ugly games.
Overall Grade: B-
Final Stat Line: 18 points, 10 assists, 8 rebounds, 2 steals, 1 block, 28.6 FG%
Power Forward: Udonis Haslem
Udonis Haslem's production continues to decline. He ended the night with just four points on 40-percent shooting, while grabbing only two rebounds in 16 minutes on the court.
That's certainly not what the Heat need out of him, but they keep winning in spite of his below-average play.
It's clear that the Heat are going to continue to use Haslem as nothing more than a filler for the first few minutes until they bring Shane Battier or Chris Andersen into the game.
Until the Heat lose a game with Haslem playing as terribly as he has in the past few weeks, I'm sure he'll stay in the starting lineup. But his production sure doesn't warrant that. I guess that's why they say "if it ain't broke, don't fix it."
Overall Grade: D-
Final Stat Line: 4 points, 2 rebounds, 40.0 FG%
Center: Chris Bosh
Chris Bosh's performance needs to be broken down into two pieces, because the grade for his offensive performance differs immensely from his defensive grade.
Offensively speaking, Bosh wasn't awful, ending the night with 13 points on 50-percent shooting.
He hit a big bucket and added a free throw late in the fourth with the game tied at 85. And he was relatively efficient from the perimeter.
On the defensive side of the ball, it was a different story for Bosh. Marc Gasol proved to be too much for the undersized center, ending the night with 24 points on 8-of-13 shooting from the floor and 8-of-8 shooting from the charity stripe.
There is a silver lining in this, though. Had Bosh let Gasol put up these numbers earlier in the year, the Heat would've lost to Memphis. But now, the Heat have figured out how to win games when Bosh isn't exactly playing efficiently on defense.
Overall, Bosh's play was solid enough to help the Heat get their 13th straight win and that's all that matters.
Overall Grade: B-
Final Stat Line: 13 points, 6 rebounds, 1 assist, 50.0 FG%
Sixth Man: Shane Battier
Shane Battier did his best LeBron James impression on Friday night, and the Heat certainly needed it because LeBron was doing a Battier impression rather than dominating as usual.
Battier was at the foundation of this win for the Heat, with a big offensive board with 1:30 left in the fourth quarter and a huge defensive board with under a minute left.
Not only did he do a great job on the glass late in the game, but Battier also provided consistent shooting from beyond the arc, shooting 4-of-5 on the night.
Consistent production off the bench is a huge key for the Heat as they continue their push to maintain the top spot in the Eastern Conference.
That's exactly what Battier has become for the Heat, consistent production, and that is absolutely huge.
Overall Grade: A
Final Stat Line: 14 points, 2 assists, 2 rebounds, 80.0 3PT FG%
The Heat's second unit had a solid night, highlighted by the play of Shane Battier and Ray Allen per usual.
Battier and Allen put up impressive numbers, with 24 combined points on 8-of-14 shooting from the field and 6-of-10 shooting from beyond the arc.
The rest of the Heat's bench—Chris Andersen and Norris Cole—wasn't awful, but they weren't that productive, either.
Cole and Andersen combined for eight points on 2-of-6 shooting from the floor, and they accounted for six rebounds, two assists and two steals.
All in all, the Heat's second unit got the job done by scoring about 33 percent of the Heat's 98 points, and doing so on 10-of-20 shooting from the floor.
Overall Grade: B+
Final Combined Stat Line: 32 points, 15 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals, 50.0 FG%