The Houston Rockets (44-19) went into the NBA All-Star break winning seven games in a row. The team has been 4-2 since the break, and now start the new week with their first of two matchups with the reigning champions, the Miami Heat (42-14).
Neither the Rockets nor the Heat are currently top playoff seeds, but both have the best records against the opposite conference. Miami is 17-4 against the West, and Houston is 17-3 against the opposing East. Half of Heat’s losses were against the bottom of the Western Conference (Utah and Sacramento), but their other two losses (OKC and Golden State) they allowed an average of 117.5 points. A good sign for the 3rd highest scoring team in the league, Houston.
In two of the Rockets three losses to Eastern Conference teams it has been their inability to score, or as most fans would say the inability to even show up. They scored a season low 80 points in their loss to Atlanta and only 81 in a 33-point loss to the Indiana Pacers.
Houston has promoted themselves as a powerhouse team in the West. Now they have the chance to prove themselves against a team that has only lost one game the entire month of February. Miami has remade their roster to contend with the size teams like the Rockets have, so for them it is a good litmus test defending the paint.
For Coach McHale, he will have the opportunity to see if the team defense has really improved from the glaring lack of effort that plagued the team early on.
For center Dwight Howard, his championship message is still his focal point for this season. “We allowed them to get back in the game”, lamented Howard after a 118-110 win over the Detroit Pistons on Sunday. “That is not what we need to do if we want to be a championship team.”
Can the Rockets slow down a resurgent Dwayne Wade and the masked-man LeBron James? What better way to see where your team wants to be than facing the champs.
Quick Note: Chandler Parsons is scheduled to return to the lineup against the Miami Heat after missing Sunday night’s game.
3/4 vs Heat 7:00 PM
3/5 @Magic 6:00 PM
3/7 vs Pacers 8:30 PM
3/9 vs Trail Blazers 6:00 PM