Can Chris Bosh, Heat handle Blake Griffin?
by Adi Joseph, USA TODAY Sports
Three story lines from Wednesday night’s 10-game NBA slate (all times p.m. Eastern):
Can the Miami Heat handle elite big men?
Heat at Los Angeles Clippers, 10:30, ESPN: Another way to phrase this question: Do Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan compose an elite frontcourt? The Clippers’ big men are the NBA’s most athletic oversized duo, and the Heat play a small lineup that has struggled with interior defense and rebounding. Jordan has blossomed this season, making 72.0% of his shots. Griffin has been inconsistent, averaging 15.7 points and 8.3 rebounds a game after 20.7 and 10.9 last season. But Miami doesn’t have an answer for either in its starting lineup. With Shane Battier and Chris Bosh at the power forward and center spots, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra is giving up size and strength. LeBron James has carried the burden on the boards, averaging 10.0 a game to Bosh’s 7.4. Udonis Haslem may need to play extended minutes, but that cuts into Spoelstra’s wide-open offense, which leads the NBA in points per possession. Or Miami can try to score enough that Los Angeles can’t keep pace. That works, too.
Can the Memphis Grizzlies contend for a championship without a star?
Grizzlies at Oklahoma City Thunder, 8, ESPN: The example is tired at this point, but the 2003-04 Detroit Pistons stand as the one shining example. They are the only team to win an NBA championship without one of the league’s 10 best players in the past 30 years. The Grizzlies beat the Heat on Sunday for their fifth consecutive win. Stretching that streak to seven would be seriously impressive with the Thunder followed by the 5-0 Knicks on Friday. They have the horses. Zach Randolph leads the NBA with 14.5 rebounds a game, and he is doing it without stepping on Rudy gay’s toes offensively. Mike Conley Jr. can’t match talent awith the Thunder’s Russell Westbrook or other elite point guads, but his quiet efficiency has justified an extension many criticized before last season, and he’s helped by Marc Gasol, perhaps the best passing big man in the league. The 6-2 Thunder should win this … [For more on Tonight's NBA schedule: Can Chris Bosh, Heat handle Blake Griffin?, click here.]