Memphis Grizzlies at Miami Heat (-8, 186)
The Memphis Grizzlies and the Miami Heat have combined to win 20 straight games. One of the two longest current winning streaks in the NBA will come to an end on Friday when the Heat host the Grizzlies. Miami has taken 12 straight and is beginning to run away with the Eastern Conference as its defense catches up to LeBron James and the offense. Memphis and its league-best scoring defense is victorious in eight straight.
James added to his MVP resume with 40 points and 16 assists in a 141-129 double-overtime win over Sacramento on Tuesday, improving the Heat’s league-best home record to 25-3. Miami has looked far from invincible in its last two games, however, needing a late surge to topple Cleveland on Sunday before the scare against lowly Sacramento. The Grizzlies are allowing 89.5 points on the season and held the Dallas Mavericks to five in the third quarter of Wednesday’s 90-84 triumph. The 84 points marked the most the team has surrendered in its last four contests.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, SPSO (Memphis), SUN (Miami), ESPN
ABOUT THE GRIZZLIES (38-18): Memphis went through a transitional period in the wake of the trade that sent Rudy Gay to Toronto at the end of January, but has found itself again as a defensive force. The Grizzlies are surrendering 86.6 points during their winning streak while receiving just enough offense from the likes of Zach Randolph, Marc Gasol and Mike Conley to earn victories. Only one of the last eight triumphs has come by more than seven points. Without Gay around to dominate the ball, Memphis is playing more to its strengths on the interior. Randolph has recorded five straight double-doubles and Gasol has picked up his pace with 18 points and 10.7 rebounds over his last three contests. Gasol was held to two points and 10 boards in the first meeting with Miami but Randolph went for 18 and 12 and the defense held the Heat to 38 percent shooting in a 104-86 home win on Nov. 11.
ABOUT THE HEAT (41-14): James scored 20 points on 10-of-19 shooting in the Nov. 11 meeting but Dwyane Wade was held to eight points on 3-of-15 from the floor. Wade has been much stronger during the Heat’s recent surge and went for 39 points in Tuesday’s win over the Kings. The All-Star guard has complimented James with an average of 24.5 points on over 50 percent shooting during the winning streak. James is averaging 29.8 points on 65 percent shooting, 8.3 assists and 7.6 rebounds over the last 12 games. The reigning MVP has become even more of an Internet sensation due to his pregame dunking routine, which he uses to help get his team get pumped up in the final minutes of warmups. Miami had allowed an average of 92.4 points in the first 10 games of its streak before letting up a bit at home over the last two.
* Over is 6-0 in Heat’s last six home games.
* Heat are 4-1 ATS in their last five vs. Western Conference foes.
* Grizzlies are 7-1 ATS in their last eight games following an ATS loss.
* Over is 8-2 in Heat’s last 10 overall.
1. Memphis has won two of its last three trips to Miami, including a 97-82 triumph on Apr. 6 last season.
2. Heat F Shane Battier (hamstring) and G Mike Miller (sinus infection) are both questionable for Friday.
3. Miami has not won 13 in a row since a franchise-best 14-game streak in 2004-05.