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Can Miami Heat’s zone defense snap the Houston Rockets small-ball lineup’s 5-game winning streak?

With James Ennis III out of the starting lineup, the Munchkin Rockets have reeled off five consecutive wins.

NBA: Miami Heat at New Orleans Pelicans Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

The Houston Rockets take a 5-game winning streak into AmericanAirlines Arena versus the Miami Heat on Houston’s third game in four nights.

The Rockets have been on the roll lately with a lineup that features only one player, Clint Capela at 6’10”, over 6’6”.

Their starters include a power forward, P.J. Tucker, at 6’6”; a small forward, Eric Gordon, at 6’4”; a shooting guard, James Harden, at 6’5”; and a point guard, Chris Paul, at 6’0”.

No wonder 55 of their 85 field goal attempts were from 3-point range in the convincing 136-118 win against the Washington Wizards.

In their previous game against the Utah Jazz, the Rockets held the Jazz to 97 points by giving their frontline players extensive minutes against Utah’s bench unit, i.e. Harden 41 min., Paul 37 min., Gordon 37 min., Capela 35 min., and Tucker 35 min.

One feature of the Rockets’ arsenal on offensive is the pull-up jumper from the 3-point line, because in their last five wins 39% of their 3-point attempts were unassisted, which far exceeds the 26% of the second-place Oklahoma City Thunder.

Even though Houston attempts the fewest proportion of 2-point field goal attempts in the NBA at 54%, they’re seventh in assisted 2FGM% at 56% due to mastery of Paul and Harden as facilitators to backdoor cutters.

Seems like the Rockets’ offense can’t be stopped, but Houston played two games against Utah recently, losing one by 27 points and winning the other by only 5 points, while averaging 96.5 points in the process.

Interestingly when Rudy Gobert was ejected from the first game against the Rockets, after only 3 minutes on the court, the Jazz went on to beat the Rockets 118-91.

The game summary noted Houston committed an uncharacteristically high 32 turnovers, lead by Harden’s 7 and Paul’s 5 miscues.

The Rockets’ starters made only two 3-point baskets in that entire contest, both by Harden, and went a total of 2 of 15 from downtown.

So go figure, the Rockets beat the Jazz with Gobert mostly on the court, and lost when Derrick Favors and Dante Exum were in the game as defenders.

Curious to see how Miami deals with Houston as the Rockets have recently taken off from the launching pad.