|-4.5 MIA (-110) @ pinnacle|
My 10* Las Vegas Insider is on the Mia Heat at 8:05 ET.
The Memphis Grizzlies had lost three of four before winning back-to-back games at home to Minnesota (120-108) and 116-100 at Philadelphia, who played without Embiid. Memphis 24-23 and currently owns the No. 8 seed in the West. However, the Grizzlies are FIVE games back of the No. 6, the last position guaranteed to make the postseason. Seeds 7 through 10 will enter a "Play-In" format. Miami's season has featured both extended winning and losing streaks and the Heat enter this game on a four-game winning streak, which has followed a SIX-game losing streak. 26-24 Miami is currently tied with the Hawks as the teams battle for the No. 4 seed in the East. However, behind the East's top-three seeds, the field is crowded, as Miami is just 1 1/2-games up on the No. 8 seed.
The Grizzlies' impressive win at Philly opened a four-game road trip, as center Jonas Valanciunas (16.2 & 12.5) collected 16 points and 21 rebounds. It was his 10th straight double-double with Valanciunas recording 17 straight games with at least 10 rebounds. Memphis had SEVEN players in double figures on Sunday. Joining Valanciunas in double digits on the season are Morant (19.0 & 7.5 APG), Brooks (16.1), Anderson (12.3-5.8-3.4), Clarke (11.7 & 5.5) and Allen (10.1) Melton has missed 12 games this season but in his 35 games (just one start), also averages 10.1 PPG.
Miami's winning streak began with back-to-back road wins at the Knicks and Pacers, followed by home wins over the Warriors and then Saturday's 115-101 victory over the Cavs. That was a rare double-digit win for the Heat, which shot 53.7 percent and had SEVEN players in double figures. Butler (21.2-7.5-7.3) and Adebayo (19.3-9.6-5.3) are All Stars but with the Heat healthier than they've been all season, their depth is impressive. Guards Herro (13.3), Dragic (13.5 & 4.6 APG) and Robinson (13.1 & 3.8) are now finally joined by Oladipo, who has played back-to-back games, averaging 26.5 MPG while scoring 14 points and handing out 10 assists in his first two contests with the Heat. SF Ariza is also a new addition (9 games / 6 starts) and he's an excellent defender, averaging 7.1 & 4.1
Before Miami's four-game winning streak, it had lost six consecutive games, beginning March 17 at Memphis 89-85. In that meeting, Jimmy Butler led all scorers with 24 but it was not enough for the Heat as Memphis' balanced scoring (Morant, De'Anthony Melton and Kyle Anderson each had 13) was too much for a Miami team playing its fifth game in seven nights. That's NOT the case here, as the Heat haven't played since Saturday. In its four-game winning streak, Miami has regained a key component, its defensive identity. The Heat have held its last four 'victims' to an average of just 96.3 PPG.