The Miami Heat only grabbed one win in their lengthy six-game West Coast road trip and they haven’t played in three days since losing in Milwaukee. Tonight they return to the AmericanAirlines Arena to host the Houston Rockets in what will be an extremely tough matchup for the Heat.
But how to contain Harden, who is putting up MVP numbers against every NBA team, averaging 28.4 points (third in NBA), 11.7 assists (first in NBA) and 8.2 rebounds this season. Only Hall of Fame guard Oscar Robertson has averaged those kinds of numbers for an entire season, and he did it three times in his career. Unfortunately for the Heat, Justise Winslow could have helped the cause in defending Harden but the job will likely fall to Rodney McGruder to start the game.
Miami has now used 17 different lineups this season, just one less than New Orleans Pelicans who lead the NBA.
According to Houston’s game notes, since starting the season 4-4 on the road, the Rockets are 12-3 over its past 15 road games, including five straight from 12/1 - 12/21. They have lost only three games out of 15 against East teams this season.
Surprisingly, numberFire is generously ranking the Heat #21 in their overall NBA Power Rankings and giving them a 42% chance of winning tonight’s game. Here is a full breakdown of projections for the game using data from the matchup to similar games and teams in the past. (This page will also update the win probability if any news comes out between now and the game.) More info on the Heat can be found here.
Miami Heat: Chris Bosh (blood clots) and Josh McRoberts (stress fracture in his left foot) are out indefinitely. Justise Winslow is out for the rest of the season with a torn labrum in his right shoulder. Josh Richardson (left foot) is out for at least two more weeks. Willie Reed (bruised sternum) will play tonight.
Side note: Heat players have now missed 162 games due to injury or illness this season, the most in the NBA.
Houston Rockets: Clint Capela (left fibula fracture) has missed the past 15 games but appears set to play tonight. Chinanu Onuaku (37th overall pick in 2016 NBA Draft) is currently assigned to the D-League.
Probable Starting Lineups
PG - Goran Dragic
SG - Dion Waiters
C - Hassan Whiteside
SF - Rodney McGruder
PF - Luke Babbitt
PG - Patrick Beverley
SG - James Harden
C - Montrezl Harrell
SF - Trevor Ariza
PF - Ryan Anderson
All-Time Head-to-Head: Miami has currently won six of their last seven against Houston in Miami and they are 29-29 all-time versus the Rockets during the regular season and is 18-12 in games played in Miami.
Miami Heat: 11-30, .275, 12 GB, on pace for 23-59 season. Fifth in the Southeast Division, 14th in the Eastern Conference, 29th in the NBA.
Houston Rockets: 32-11, .514, 8.5 GB, on pace for 42-40 season. Second in the Central Division, fifth in the Eastern Conference, 12th in the NBA.
NATIONAL TV: NBA TV
MIAMI TV: FOX Sports Sun (Eric Reid, Tony Fiorentino, Jason Jackson, Ron Rothstein)
MIAMI RADIO: The Ticket 790 AM (Mike Inglis, John Crotty, Jonathan Zaslow, Tommy Tighe)
* HEAT Radio Network includes: West Palm Beach – WUUB ESPN 106.3FM, Naples/Ft. Myers – 1240 WFWN, 1270 WNOG & 97.3 FM, Port St. Lucie – WPSL 1590AM &
The Keys – WKWF 1600AM and WAVK 97.7FM
MIAMI SPANISH RADIO: WAQI 710 AM (José Pañeda, Joe Pujala)
HOUSTON TV: ROOT Sports Southwest (Matt Bullard, Craig Ackerman)
HOUSTON RADIO: KMBE 790 AM (Matt Thomas)
HOUSTON SPANISH RADIO: KEYH 850 AM (Adrian Chavarria)