Reporting Tim Kephart
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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The Memphis Grizzlies have the unenviable task of trying to stop the Miami Heat’s 17-game home winning streak Friday night at the AmericanAirlines Arena.
The Heat is 23-2 on the season and has been flat out dominant at home. The Heat is coming off a 98-93 victory over the best team in the Western Conference, the Oklahoma City Thunder, and victory over Philadelphia earlier this week.
NBA MVP candidate LeBron James has led the Heat the last two games at home in scoring and has reestablished himself as the most valuable player in the league. James had 34 points and 10 assists against the Thunder and had 41 points against the 76ers.
By avenging last week’s road loss to the Thunder on Wednesday, Miami extended the longest home winning streak in the NBA this season to 17. The franchise mark of 18 was set Jan. 23-April 5, 2005.
Defense has played a large part in that run, with the Heat allowing an average of 87.8 points while forcing an average of 17.7 turnovers in the last nine home contests. They’ll now try to shut down a Grizzlies team that could be a little fatigued.
The matchup with the Grizzlies has typically favored the Heat. The Grizzlies shoot below their average near the basket and from behind the three-point line against the Heat. Conversely, Miami shoots better than their average from all points on the court except the paint against the Grizzlies.
It’s easy to see why the Heat would struggle against the Grizzlies down low. The Griz feature two of the Western Confernce’s better big men in center Marc Gasol and power forward Zach Randolph.
Gasol averages 15.3 points and 9.6 rebounds per game, while Randolph has been chipping in 12 points and 7 rebounds per game. Both are physical presences the Heat will have trouble dealing with if the game slows down to a half-court contest.
The Grizzlies had no luck slowing down the Heat in their lone trip to Miami last season, suffering a 118-85 loss. James had 27 points in 32 minutes and is averaging 30.3 points in his last four games against Memphis.