NBA Basketball

Thriving without Ja Morant, Grizzlies battle spiraling Heat

The Memphis Grizzlies, playing without superstar Ja Morant but still rolling with a three-game win streak, are set to visit the Miami Heat on Wednesday night.

Morant has missed five straight games due to off-court issues that include brandishing a gun at a Denver nightclub on March 4. He will not be available on Wednesday and has reportedly entered a counseling program in Florida.

"Ja is fully engaged in this process," Grizzlies coach Taylor Jenkins said of the counseling program.

The Grizzlies have been winning lately despite missing Morant's playmaking -- he averages 27.1 points and 8.2 assists, both team highs.

Memphis is also playing without center Steven Adams, who leads the squad in rebounds per game (11.5). Adams has an injury to his right knee and will likely miss the rest of the regular season.

Brandon Clarke, Memphis' sixth-leading scorer, is also out for the rest of the season due to a torn left Achilles.

Memphis' leading available scorer is shooting guard Desmond Bane (21.3 ppg). Tyus Jones, second on the team in assists (4.7), has replaced Morant at point guard. Jaren Jackson Jr. is averaging 16.8 points, 6.6 rebounds and an NBA-high 3.1 blocks.

The other key Grizzlies starter is wing Dillon Brooks, who is averaging 14.3 points.

Off the bench, the hottest Memphis player is rookie wing David Roddy, who has come alive the past two games, scoring a career-high 24 points on Saturday and posting his second-best performance with 19 points on Monday. Both games came against the Dallas Mavericks.

As for the trends regarding Wednesday's game, they are uneven.

Miami is 23-13 at home, but the Heat are just 5-8 overall in their last 13 games.

Memphis is 28-5 at home, but the Grizzlies are just 13-21 on the road. In fact, they are 2-11 in their past 13 road contests.

However, the Grizzlies are 5-1 in their past six games against Miami.

Jimmy Butler leads Miami in scoring (22.6 ppg), and he is highly efficient, shooting 52.5 percent on field goal attempts and 85.1 percent from the free-throw line. He also gets to the foul line 8.6 times per game, which is by far the highest average on the team.

Butler scored 24 points on Monday as Miami rallied to defeat the visiting Utah Jazz, 119-115.

There were 13 lead changes in the fourth quarter alone.

"As long as we end up winning, I'm happy," Butler said. "We've got to string some wins together. Let's make it happen."

The Heat's other two elite scorers are Bam Adebayo (20.9) and Tyler Herro (20.3). Adebayo leads Miami in rebounds (9.4), and he made the game's key defensive play in the win over Utah, altering a shot at the rim in the final seconds.

Herro had the go-ahead 3-pointer in the final minute.

It hasn't become a major factor yet, but Heat backup center Omer Yurtseven has played two straight games after having missed Miami's first 68 contests due to ankle surgery in November.

Yurtseven is a rotation replacement for Cody Zeller, who suffered a broken nose in Miami's loss to Orlando on Saturday.

--Field Level Media

Updated March 14, 2023

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