The Heat (8-25) have the worst record in the Eastern Conference and come in having dropped six straight, their longest skid since opening 2003-04 with seven consecutive losses.
Making matters worse for the floundering Heat have been injuries. Shaquille O’Neal has missed four straight games because of bursitis in his left hip, Jason Williams has sat out five in a row because of knee inflammation and Dwyane Wade missed his first game since November on Friday with injuries to his right pinkie and right shoulder.
The status of all three players for Sunday’s game is uncertain.
Even with all of them out Friday, Miami was competitive in a game against one of the league’s top teams record-wise, but lost 94-89 to the Dallas Mavericks in a rematch of the 2006 NBA finals.
The Heat trailed by one with 14 seconds remaining, but Ricky Davis’ potential go-ahead layup missed and despite lots of contact, no foul was called. Miami hoped to get a shot at a game-tying 3-pointer in the waning seconds, but its inbounds pass was stolen and that led to a Dallas layup.
Heat coach Pat Riley, though, was pleased with his team’s effort.
“We got a great game out of these guys. We played hard enough to win,” Riley said. “We’ve played hard all year. But we haven’t played well enough.”
Miami fell to 1-7 this season without Wade, who missed the first seven games of the season following knee and shoulder surgeries.
The Heat have averaged just 90.3 points during the six-game skid after averaging 102.5 points during a 4-4 stretch in December.
“We’ve got to hang together during this tough time for us,” Riley said before Friday’s game. “This can be real hard if you aren’t together.”
Memphis (9-23) is experiencing similar struggles despite playing well in its last two games.
Two days after ending a five-game losing streak with a 90-72 victory over Indiana, the Grizzlies nearly pulled off a road win at league-best Boston on Friday before losing 100-96.
“I thought the whole game was a missed opportunity,” coach Marc Iavaroni said. “I thought we were in perfect position to come in here and have a shot at it, and I think we did until we made some miscues.”
It was the fourth time in five games the Grizzlies gave up at least 100 points. Opponents are averaging 104.3 points against Memphis - third-most in the league.
Grizzlies leading scorer Rudy Gay made just one of his first eight shots Friday, but finished with 21 points. He took a forearm to the mouth in the third quarter and lost a tooth, but should be ready for this contest.
The Grizzlies have lost four straight against the Heat to fall to 7-15 in the all-time series.