The new-look Heat came out swinging, with Bam setting the defensive tone and Jimmy getting to the rim to set the offensive tone. Though its offense wasn’t perfect, the Heat got out to 6-0 start. The Heat’s defense was impregnable early on with Bam anchoring the team. Bam went toe-to-toe with Jaren Jackson Jr. showcasing a chip on his shoulder against the reigning DPOY. Turnovers remained a problem for the Heat, but with Tyler Herro knocking down threes and Josh Richardson getting to the rim the Heat was able to stay ahead. Without a true point guard in the lineup, J-Rich did a good job facilitating for his teammates while he operated in the point guard role. Towards the end of the first quarter, Terry Rozier III made his Heat debut to a loud crowd reception.
Rozier looked a little bit lost to start, but contributed well grabbing boards and working to set up his new teammates. Unfortunately, the Heat’s three-point shooting was awful, starting 2-8 and allowing Memphis to creep back within one. Rozier’s first Heat buckets came on two free throws as a result of an aggressive drive. Terry’s aggressive play was immediately noticeable as it set up second-chance opportunities on offense, which honestly have been a rarity in South Florida basketball lately.
Scottie Pippen Jr. and the Grizzlies took over early in the second robbing momentum from Miami and getting out to a small lead. The Heat fought back, getting opportunities at the free-throw line, but its motion offense looked disjointed and sloppy resulting in turnovers and missed opportunities. The usual second unite offense generators had nothing in the second with Duncan bricking most looks, and Caleb unable to hit a shot from beyond the arc. After a full 8 minutes without a field goal, it was Scary Terry who would end the drought with a three and a subsequent steal.
This game morphed into a chess match at the foul line, at least briefly as each team hacked away at each other. Eric Reid said it best when he compared the game to being played in quicksand because both teams weren’t doing much (I hope you bet the under.) With Miami so sluggish, the Grizzlies took advantage taking a six-point lead and leaving Miami on the outside looking in. Out of sync, the Heat air-balled threes, forced shots, and let Memphis make easy looks. The whole team looked awful and was lucky to go into the second half down only seven.
Haywood would open the second half with a three, but Miami’s defense was still suspect (despite repeatedly rejecting Jaren Jackson Jr.) With its sudden ability to once again hit threes, Miami’s offense started to work – still when you have David Roddy making every shot he takes, no amount of Jimmy drives can save you. So with that, the Heat stayed comfortably behind Memphis unable to make a move. Herro, Bam, and others attempted to chip at Memphis’ lead, but the buckets were few and far between. With the Heat’s anemic offense on full display, the Grizzlies went up 14 and the Heat looked like it wanted to quit. Tyler was the only one giving effort, with Rozier still looking unfamiliar to the offense (not his fault, he’ll improve). I wish I could highlight something positive about this quarter, but in true throwback fashion, the Heat served up a turd quarter.
Martin’s three to start the fourth breathed a little life into Miami’s lifeless body, as did Bam’s sixth block of the night and a Scary Terry bucket. But still, Memphis managed to keep its lead in double figures. Despite the awful play the crowd could be heard chanting “Let’s go Heat!” egging the team to get something going. Bam would cut the deficit to nine, but constant turnovers, undisciplined fouls, and a contagious lethargy kept things out of reach. Luckily, Caleb seemed immune as he did his best to get Miami back into things scoring well, and playmaking. Terry Rozier’s elite slashing suddenly cut the lead to five giving Miami a chance to make up for its previous effort on a 12-4 run. After a laughable three-quarters, the Heat had a real chance to win with Duncan hitting huge threes when Miami needed them most.
Jimmy would take a shot to the face, and come out briefly because of blood drawn with 2:41 left in the game and Miami down by six. Terry, Tyler, and Caleb all contributed to cutting the lead to two but a Vince Williams three, and uncontested layup made things that much more difficult. Just like that the Heat were down by seven, with all hope just about lost. It was, as Miami suffered a much-deserved loss. The Heat needs to figure things out quickly as they get ready to face a gauntlet of Eastern Conference rivals in the Celtics and Knicks.