What seemingly was an assured first place finish in the East has now changed once again with the Miami Heat‘s second straight loss in two nights. This time the loss came at the hands of a very hungry and determined Memphis Grizzlies team that is just a game out of the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference. Although this game was close until late in the fourth quarter, the Heat struggled all night long to contain the destructive Grizzlies frontcourt of Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph and ended up losing 107-102.
In the Heat’s two consecutive losses to the Grizzlies and the Brooklyn Nets, the majority of their frontcourt has had to sit out due to various lingering injuries and other ailments. Greg Oden, the Heat’s starting center, has missed the last seven games, while both Chris Andersen and Udonis Haslem have either missed one or both of the last two games. In both of the Heat’s consecutive losses, they were out-muscled on the glass by over 15 rebounds and had their shot blocked over 13 times. It is clear here that the lack of size for the Heat has become a real problem.
Without two-thirds of the Heat’s frontcourt available over the last two games, Coach Erik Spoelstra has had to resort to some odd lineups that even featured former D-League acquisition Justin Hamilton receiving some spot minutes. If that isn’t a sign your frontcourt isn’t at 100 percent, I don’t know what is.
The Heat will hopefully have the bulk of their frontcourt return on Friday night as they face off against one of the bigger teams in the league in the Indiana Pacers. This game will be a huge barometer for the Heat’s frontcourt, as they have often been referred to as one of the softer groups in the league in this regard, ranking dead last in rebounds and barely grazing the top 20 in blocked shots. If the defending champs don’t have a healthy frontcourt heading into the playoffs, their bid for a three-peat will become way less assured, even with LeBron James leading the way.