MIAMI (AP) — With their two biggest stars ailing, the Miami Heat might not be at full strength in a matchup between two of the league’s hottest teams.
That could make things difficult for the defending champs on Sunday night when they visit a Memphis Grizzlies team looking for a fifth straight victory.
The Heat (5-1), who have also won four in a row, might have to play again without star Dwyane Wade. The All-Star guard is considered day-to-day as he recovers from an illness that sidelined him in Friday’s 95-89 win at Atlanta.
Mike Miller, who started against the Hawks, and Ray Allen would likely share the shooting guard duties if Wade sits out again.
While LeBron James may not be 100 percent, he is expected to give it a go after banging knees with Atlanta’s Josh Smith in the first half. The reigning MVP stayed in and finished with 21 points, including the clinching jumper with 13.6 seconds remaining.
“It’s a little sore right now,” he said after the game. “I knew I would get through it. It would take a lot for me not to go back out there with my teammates.”
Rudy Gay, who also hurt his knee against the Los Angeles Clippers in the season opener, appears to be fine after leading Memphis with 21 points in Friday’s 93-85 victory over Houston.
Zach Randolph finished with 15 points and 14 rebounds for his fifth double-double in as many games. The 6-foot-9 forward ranks among the league leaders in rebounding with an average of 15.0.
The Grizzlies (4-1), one of the league’s best rebounding teams at 44.8 per game, seem to make the most of their work on the boards. They’re shooting 42.9 percent from the field, but are still averaging 100.0 points.
“We aren’t a team that shoots it well all the time, but we always give forth the effort,” point guard Mike Conley said.
If Wade and James aren’t at full strength, Miami will likely turn to Chris Bosh to pick up the slack. Bosh stepped up with 24 points and made all 10 of his free throws against the Hawks.
Allen added 17 points off the bench and was 3 of 5 from behind the 3-point arc. He has hit at least one 3-pointer in every game and has scored in double figures in three of his last four.
The Heat are one of the league’s highest scoring teams at 107.5 points, but they could certainly use their full lineup against a Grizzlies team that is limiting opponents to an average of 90.8 points during its winning streak.
Tony Allen figures to play a key role in defending the Heat after he helped hold James Harden, who entered the night leading the league in scoring at 30.3 points, to just 4-of-18 shooting from the field.
Despite all of Miami’s success, the Grizzlies have won six of the last nine meetings, including three of four in Memphis.
“You have to fight for wins on the road. They never come easy,” Erik Spoelstra said after Friday’s win.
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