At 3:30 this afternoon, the Miami HEAT will host the Houston Rockets at the AA Arena in Miami, FL. It's the second of two matchups this season between the two, with Houston earning a win in the first on March 4th, 106-103. The HEAT have lost five of six, and will try to earn a split in their current four game homestand tonight. They started by defeating the Washington Wizards, 99-90 on Monday before losing 96-95 to the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday and 111-107 to the Denver Nuggets on Friday. They'll go on to play the Cavaliers in Cleveland on Tuesday and the Celtics in Boston the following night. The Rockets will be trying to salvage a win after losing two of the first three games in their current roadtrip. They dropped games to the Oklahoma City Thunder, 106-98, on Tuesday, and to the Chicago Bulls, 111-87, on Thursday. They'll play the Utah Jazz at home tomorrow night.
The last time Miami and Houston met was March 4th in the Lone Star State. Dwyane Wade had 24 with six assists, Michael Beasley matched him with 24 off the bench, and LeBron James put up 22 with six dimes in a losing effort as Houston triumphed, 106-103. For the Rockets, Dwight Howard led with 22 points and 16 boards, James Harden had 21 with 11 assists, and Terrence Howard had 19 points and 12 rebounds. * Full Recap * Box Score
Fresh off a 61 point personal best and HEAT record in a win over the Charlotte Bobcats, James mentioned his lack of energy in a post-game interview:
I fought through it in the first half, but it just wasn't there for me.
The Dream Shake has more on the Rockets.
On Friday night, the HEAT dropped a 111-107 decision to the visiting Denver Nuggets. Kenneth "Manimal" Faried scored 24 points with 10 rebounds for the Nuggets. For Miami, Ray Allen hit five-of-seven from deep to lead the HEAT with 22 off the bench. James scored 21 with six assists and six rebounds, and Chris Andersen had 14 points with six boards and four blocks. * Full Recap * Box Score
Denver Nuggets vs Miami Heat | March 14, 2014 | Full Game Highlights | NBA 2013-2014 Season (via NBAshowtimeHD9)
Dwyane Wade addressed the worrisome trend after the game:
It's a tough stretch. We haven't been in a stretch like this since probably the 2010-11 season. We lost five in a row. When we were in that stretch, we had to figure it out. It's the same thing with this. Something is off with this team. We as a unit got to figure out what's off.
Check out Denver Stiffs for more on the Nuggets.
Houston lost to Chicago in their last game, on Thursday, by the embarrassing score of 111-87. Jeremy Lin led the way off the bench with 21 points. Howard scored a dozen with 10 rebounds and four blocks in the loss. The Bulls were led by Joakim Noah, who scored 13 points with 10 rebounds and nine assists. Five other Bulls finished in double figures. * Full Recap * Box Score
Houston Rockets vs Chicago Bulls | March 13, 2014 | Full Game Highlights | NBA 2013-2014 Season (via NBAshowtimeHD9)
Houston coach Kevin McHale spoke later:
In every aspect of the game, they kicked our [butts].
If the Bulls are your thing, God bless you - and go to Blogabull.
Game Time: 3:30 PM, EST
Season Series: Houston leads, 1-0.
All-Time Series: Miami leads, 27-26.
Miami HEAT: 44-19, .698, on pace for a 57-25 season. First in the Southeast Division, second in the Eastern Conference, fifth in the NBA. Last five: L-L-W-L-L. Playoff Odds: 100%.
Houston Rockets: 44-21, .677, on pace for a 56-26 season. Second in the Southwest Division, fourth in the Western Conference, sixth in the NBA. Last five: W-W-W-L-L. Playoff Odds: 99.99%.
This Day in HEATstory
Miami owns a 9-8 record on the day before the Feast of St. Patrick since 1988. They are 4-6 against the Western Conference on this date, including a 2-0 record against the Rockets.
1990 - Suns 129, HEAT 103
1992 - Bulls 116, HEAT 100
1993 - SuperSonics 98, HEAT 85
1995 - SuperSonics 103, HEAT 78
1996 - HEAT 121, Rockets 97
1997 - HEAT 101, Rockets 80
1998 - Pistons 103, HEAT 90
1999 - HEAT 94, Wizards 85
2000 - HEAT 92, 76ers 77
2002 - HEAT 101, Nuggets 76
2004 - HEAT 96, Hornets 83
2006 - HEAT 107, Celtics 104
2007 - HEAT 103, Kings 97
2008 - Mavericks 98, HEAT 73
2010 - Spurs 88, HEAT 76
2011 - Thunder 96, HEAT 85
2012 - HEAT 84, 76ers 78
Probable Starting Lineups
PG - Mario Chalmers
SG - Dwyane Wade
SF - LeBron James
PF - Shane Battier
C - Chris Bosh
PG - Patrick Beverley
SG - James Harden
SF - Chandler Parsons
PF - Terrence Jones
C - Dwight Howard
These Rockets are one of five teams that I could reasonably see representing the Western Conference in the NBA Finals this season. Miami was unable to solve them the first time around - and haven't looked the same since. Greg Oden and Chris Andersen will need to come up big to solve Dwight Howard, and when James Harden gets hot, he is nearly unstoppable. Lucky for the HEAT they have a few minor threats on the roster to match up against him. I don't think Miami will be able to stop the Beard offensively, but they could easily trade buckets with him.
If Miami's combo at center collects at least six blocks, and hold Howard to less than 12 rebounds, then the HEAT will win.
Thanks for reading today's game preview. Keep HotHotHoops bookmarked for all of your HEAT news, and check back here for the Gamethread, going live at 3PM.