The Miami Heat, who are set to end their four-game road trip with a game against the Memphis Grizzlies on Monday night, said they never lost their confidence.
Last month, the Heat endured a four-game losing streak. Since then, however, the Heat have responded with four wins in their past five games, including a 120-116 overtime victory over the host Boston Celtics on Friday night.
The big news for Miami was the return of Jimmy Butler on Friday.
Butler, who had missed seven straight games due to a sore right knee, played 36 minutes on Friday, posting 25 points and 15 rebounds.
“Having JB back is big time for us,” Heat guard Tyler Herro said of Butler. “He helps us in so many different ways.”
Indeed, Butler leads Miami in scoring (21.2) and steals (1.7). He also ranks second in assists (5.9), overall rebounds (7.2) and offensive boards (2.3).
But the Heat, who can climb back up to .500 with a win at Memphis, need Butler available on a more consistent basis. He has missed nine of Miami’s 23 games.
The Heat have just one player who has competed in every Miami game: point guard Kyle Lowry, who is averaging 14.8 points and a team-high 6.0 assists.
It’s a bit unusual that the Heat’s iron man — Lowry — turns 37 in March, making him the oldest member of their regular rotation.
The other key members of the Heat are Bam Adebayo and Herro. Adebayo ranks second on the Heat in scoring (21.0) and first in rebounds (9.1). Herro ranks third in scoring (18.9) and third in assists (4.1).
Memphis, like the Heat, has won four of its past five. The Grizzlies earned their second straight win on Sunday night, defeating the host Detroit Pistons, 122-112.
Point guard Ja Morant scored 21 of his 33 points in the third quarter and added a game-high 10 assists.
“He has a special impact on us winning games,” Grizzlies coach Taylor Jenkins said of Morant, who was a plus-21 on Sunday. “He’s a special player.”
The Grizzlies played without center Steven Adams, who leads the NBA with 5.2 offensive rebounds per game. Adams, who averages 7.9 points and 11.2 rebounds overall, is day-to-day due to a hip injury.
Memphis is also without shooting guard Desmond Bane, who has been ruled out due to a toe injury. He is second on Memphis in scoring (24.7) and in assists (4.8).
Monday’s game will mark the start of Memphis’ five-game homestand.
Besides Morant, the Grizzlies player to watch is Jaren Jackson Jr., who scored 22 against Detroit. In his past seven games, Jackson has averaged 21.1 points.
Memphis wing Dillon Brooks, who also scored 22 against Detroit, is a defensive menace who rarely passes up a shot. Teammate Brandon Clarke, a forward who had 14 points and a game-high 14 rebounds against Detroit, is a dynamic talent.
The Grizzlies’ fifth starter is wing John Konchar, who started a total of just seven games in his first three NBA seasons. This season, he has already made 13 starts.
–Field Level Media