Tonight at 8 PM ET, the Houston Rockets will host the Miami Arena at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas. This contest is the second of two this season between the Heat and the Rockets. Miami won the first, back on January 17th, in what was the first game of their recently concluded NBA-season-best 13 game winning streak, by a 109-103 final. Miami won that one despite giving up a 40-point, 12-rebound, 10-assist game to James Harden and his beard. Goran Dragic led six Miami players with over 14 points by scoring 21 with eight rebounds and eight assists. Wayne Ellington had 18 off the bench, Dion Waiters pitched in 17 with five rebounds, Tyler (16 points) and James (15 points, eight boards, six helpers) Johnson also came off the bench, and Hassan Whiteside scored 14 with 15 rebounds.
We talk about it all the time. You keep on putting in deposits, to the team, to the work, continue to work to get better ... trust that process. - Heat coach Erik Spoelstra
Miami is starting a two-game, 10-day roadtrip (due to the all-star break), and will finish it up against the Atlanta Hawks next Friday night before returning to AmericanAirlines Arena to host the Indiana Pacers the following night.
Houston is concluding a two-game homestand. They started with a 133-102 victory against the Phoenix Suns on Saturday. James Harden led the way for the Rockets with 40 points, eight assists and six rebounds. He was backed up by Patrick Beverley’s double-double, with 19 points and 10 rebounds.
We've got one more game before the break. We need to finish off strong. Guys get to take a couple of days to rest and be ready to go for the last push and the postseason. - Harden, talking about Miami like the Heat is an afterthought......
Miami’s last game was a one-game homestand against the Orlando Magic on Monday night. The Heat dropped it by a 116-107 final score. Evan Fournier dropped in 24 on 10-of-17 shooting to lead the Magic, backed up by 13 points and 17 boards from Nikola Vucevic. Dion Waiters led Miami with 23 points, while Goran Dragic scored 22 and Hassan Whiteside had a dozen with 19 rebounds.
He just took me out because the guy got a rebound. Went over my head. Happens, man. I lead the league in rebounds, the last time I checked. - Whiteside, getting froggy about a late-game substitution
GameTime: 8PM ET
Line: According to numberFire.com, Houston has a 79.1% chance of victory, by a likely 110-101 final score.
All Time Heat-to-Head: Miami is 30-29 all-time against the Rockets, a .508 winning percentage that ranks 16th all-time against every franchise. Miami is 57-55 against the Philadelphia 76ers (15th best) and 30-30 against the Dallas Mavericks (17th best).
PG - Goran Dragic
SG - Rodney McGruder
SF - Dion Waiters
PF - Luke Babbitt
C - Hassan Whiteside
PG - Patrick Beverley
SG - James Harden
SF - Trevor Ariza
PF - Ryan Anderson
C - Clint Capela
Miami: 24-32, .429, on pace for a 35-47 record. Fourth in the Southeast Division, 11th in the Eastern Conference, 19th in the NBA. Last Five: W-W-W-L-L. Playoff Odds: 20.6%
Houston: 40-17, .702, on pace for a 58-24 record. Second in the Southwest Division, third in the Western Conference, third in the NBA. Last Five: L-W-W-W-W. Playoff Odds: 100%
The Straight Skinny
Miami is currently ranked (by numberFire’s nERD score) as the eighth best team in the Eastern Conference, ahead of the Detroit Pistons, the Indiana Pacers, and Dwyane Wade’s Chicago Bulls. There’s still a lot of work to do if they want to surprise LeBron James and his new “Big Three” in the postseason. As with everything else in this life, it all starts with what happens next - and that’s why I’ll keep watching every game. Join me and the rest of “Heat Nation,” right here at Hot Hot Hoops tonight for the live Game Thread.