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GAME PREVIEW: Heat (27-19) face the tough Rockets (32-12) to end current road trip

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After a dramatic victory in Charlotte the Heat take on the Rockets in Houston, who are fresh off of wins against the Warriors and Timberwolves.

Miami Heat v Houston Rockets Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

The Miami Heat (27-19) face the Houston Rockets (32-12) to end a 6-game in eight day part of the schedule. Contests against the Sacramento Kings, Charlotte Hornets, and Dallas Mavericks remain before highlight ones next week against the Cleveland Cavaliers and Philadelphia 76ers.

Game Information

When: Monday, January 22 at 8:00 p.m. ET

Where: Toyota Center, Houston, TX

TV: Fox Sports Sun, NBATV

Radio: WAXY 790AM, WAQI 710AM (Spanish)

Win probability: ESPN predictor gives Miami a 16% chance to win the game.

Probable Starters

HEAT: Wayne Ellington, Derrick Jones Jr., Josh Richardson, James Johnson, Hassan Whiteside

ROCKETS: Chris Paul, James Harden, Trevor Ariza, Ryan Anderson, Clint Capela

Injury Report

HEAT: Rodney McGruder (out, tibia surgery), Okaro White (out, foot surgery), Dion Waiters (out, ankle sprain), Tyler Johnson (out, ankle sprain), Goran Dragic (out, knee bruise)

ROCKETS: Chinanu Onuaku (out), Zhou Qi (out)

Scouting Report

Houston is 7-3, and Miami 8-2 in their last 10 games. The Rockets are 17-6 at home, while the Heat is 15-10 at on the road. Miami has won 8 of 16 games against Western Conference teams. Houston has won 13 of their 18 games teams in the East.

Dragic leads the Heat in points per game (17.3) and assists (4.9), Whiteside in rebounds (11.8) and blocks (1.9), Richardson in steals (1.3). Harden leads the Rockets in points per game (31.5), Paul in assists (9.0), Capela in rebounds (10.8) and blocks (1.7), Paul in steals (1.9).

The ESPN NBA Power Index (BPI) of 6.9 for the Rockets places them second in the NBA, while the Heat’s -0.5 BPI has them ranked 19th among all NBA teams. The BPI predicts the Heat to wind up 4th in the East with a 45-37 record, and the Rockets 2nd in the West at 58-24. The scenario doesn’t factor in any trades or injuries, which could dramatically change a team’s roster in second half of season.

The more subjective ESPN Power Rankings has the Heat and Rockets both rising in the ranks. A confrontation between two outstanding coaches, Erik Spoelstra and Mike D’Antoni makes for a must-watch game tonight.

The Heat gained one spot to #10, “The Heat are fourth in the East, and there hasn’t been much buzz of a Miami player making the All-Star Game. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the 2002-03 Trail Blazers are the last team without an All-Star despite being fourth or higher in their conference at the time of the midseason break.”

The Rockets jumped up two to #2, “With the Rockets winning the season series over a Golden State team that could get four All-Stars, does Houston have a case for three of its own? The Rockets are 31-8 with Clint Capela in the lineup and just 1-4 without their big man. Capela ranks sixth in the NBA in player efficiency rating. Each of the five players ranked ahead of him were named All-Star starters last week.”

The Undefeated has a sobering reminder in the side quote of how tough the Heat will have to compete to hand the trio of Harden, Paul and their first loss this season.

James Harden added, “We’re for real, for real. We are for real as it can get. I have never been this confident playing in my entire career. Not only by adding Chris [Paul], but the rest of our team. We have a team with depth that at any moment can impact the game. We just got to stay locked in the rest of the season.”

Can Hassan Whiteside make Capela totally wrong by not mentioning the Miami Heat as another team which can defeat the Rockets?

“We’re confident because we know if we’re doing what we’re supposed to do, we’re going to beat them,” Rockets center Clint Capela told ESPN. “We’ve got to keep playing. We know that they’re going to come back if we have the lead, and we’ve just got to keep that mindset. Sometimes I feel like, in the past, we were all dragging down after mistakes. But today, we were ready. I think that if we’re doing what we’re supposed to do on defense -- all the switches, the weak side -- and keep playing our offense by keeping that mentality all game long, we have the weapons to beat them. We are better than them.”

Jack Maloney commented, “However, there was really no need for him to publicly make a statement like that. Now, Capela and the Rockets will have that quote hanging over their heads for the rest of the season -- and even more so if they meet the Warriors in the playoffs.”