Game Preview: Houston Rockets vs Miami Heat

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After winning big against the Brooklyn Nets, the Rockets head to Miami to play the broken down Miami Heat. The Rockets are led in scoring, assists and rebounds by MVP candidate James Harden, at 28.4 points, 11.7 assists, and  8.3 rebounds a game. The Rockets are ranked 3rd in offensive rating, 19th in defensive rating, and 4th in net rating.

The Heat head into the game with the 2nd best worst record in the league, dropping even further than many thought they would, after losing Chris Bosh due to blood clots. The Heat are led in scoring and assists by Goran Dragic, at 19 points and 6.4 assists, and in rebounding by Hassan Whiteside, at 14.3 rebounds per game. The Heat rank 29th in offensive rating, 13th in defensive rating, and 24th in net rating

Starting Lineups

As Clint Capela is set to return to action on Tuesday, the Rockets will likely start James Harden at point guard, Patrick Beverley at shooting guard, Trevor Ariza at small forward, Ryan Anderson at power forward, and Clint Capela at center, with Eric Gordon getting starter’s minutes.

In addition to missing Bosh for the entire season, the Heat are short Josh McRoberts, Justice Winslow, and Josh Richardson, who all started games for the Heat this year, ad may also miss bench big, Willie Reed. The Heat will probably start the game with Goran Dragic at point guard, Rodney McGruder at shooting guard, Dion Waiters at small forward, Luke Babbit at power forward, and Hassan Whiteside at center.

Three Things to Watch

  • Capela Comes Back – After missing about 4 weeks with a broken leg, center Clint Capela is scheduled to return to action on Tuesday. Watch to see if Clint is able to pick up where he left off, and help to turn around the recent defensive skid.

  • Trap Game – Coming off of a big win against another bad team, the Rockets might fall victim to a trap game, overlooking the Heat to prepare for the Bucks the day after. Watch to see if the Rockets are able to maintain their concentration and make Tuesdays game a blow out.

  • Tired Legs – After just finishing a 5 game in 7 nights stretch on Wednesday, the Rockets are about to head into a stretch of 4 games in 5 nights. Watch to see if Coach D'Antoni changes his rotations, or if the Rockets look to put the game away early, in order to maintain fresh legs for this tough week of basketball.

Prediction and Tip-Off

The Rockets are head and shoulders above the Heat in talent level, and it will likely show on Tuesday. I expect a big win for the Rockets, allowing Harden and the starters to be rested for Wednesday's game against Milwaukee.

Tip-off will be at 6:30 P.M. Central Time in Miami on Tuesday, January 17th. The game will be televised on NBAtv and ROOT Sports, with the radio broadcast on Sports Talk 790-AM.

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