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Danny

HEAT at Rockets Official Game Thread and Preview

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(Photo Credit: Mike Ehrmann)

The Miami HEAT take on the Houston Rockets tonight on the second night of a back-to-back. The HEAT, 5-2, are coming off a defeat in Memphis to the Grizzlies. The Rockets are 3-3 after their win over the Detroit Pistons on Saturday. Here's a quick preview of tonight's action:

1. Is the new Houston James Harden the same as the old Oklahoma City James Harden, just with a higher usage rate?

Couper Moorhead: That about sums it up. Harden has undoubtedly improved in a number of areas – we don’t have large enough sample sizes to really prove this yet – but on average he used about 20 percent of his possessions with the Thunder and that number has jumped to 30 percent with the Rockets, which is everything you expect from a guy going from being a sixth man to the focal point of a team’s offense. He’s gelled reasonably well with Jeremy Lin considering both are primarily pick-and-roll players, but almost a fifth of Harden’s total offense has come in transition so far. He’s one of the most selective and thus efficient shooters in the league, so he’ll find success in the half-court, but the HEAT can’t afford to lose him in the open court.

Also, yada yada yada he didn’t play well in the Finals. Big whoop. It doesn’t matter one bit.

Danny Martinez: I think we’re going to see a little more playmaking out of Harden, but that’s just a hunch on my part. His assist percentage (estimate of percentage of teammate field goals assisted on) is at a career high 23.1 percent, but it’s early. In OKC, Harden had to share ball-handling responsibilities, but now on the Rockets, I suspect Harden will almost always be the primary option and ball handler. As such, he’ll be in position to set teammates up more frequently.

Scoring-wise Harden will still be brutally efficient as long as he doesn’t alter his shot selection too much. In that sense, we’ll see the same old Harden.

2. Odd as it might be to say, could Omer Asik be the toughest big-man test the HEAT have faced?

Couper: In a sense, yes. Asik is among the best offensive rebounders in the league, just as good as players like Kenneth Faried, Kris Humphries and Zach Randolph but he’s also, by far, the best combination of rebounding, size and defense the HEAT will have faced in this young season. In fact, until Dwight Howard gets fully healthy and Kevin Garnett ups his usage to playoff minutes, there might be no better defensive big the HEAT will face this season. It might take him a few possessions to get used to Miami’s spread lineups, but Asik isn’t going to be fooled repeatedly.

Danny: On the defensive end, yes. Offensively, Asik is still very much a work in progress. He’s shown flashes of strong play, but he’s still got a ways to go to match someone like Marc Gasol who the HEAT played last night. But the defense, oh man is that defense great. Asik moves very well for his size and understands all the angles and subtle movements that make a good defender great. He uses his quickness to shut off driving lanes for smaller players and uses his height and wingspan to bother, well, everyone. Add in the fact that he’s an elite rebounder, and Asik strikes fear in any opponent.

There’s an argument to be made that with the Bulls, Asik was the best defensive player on the best defensive team of the last two seasons. The Rockets were smart to recognize this and snatch him up.

3. Any lingering issues from the Memphis loss that could pop up tonight?

Couper: The HEAT had trouble in transition, with backline help on pick-and-rolls and getting out to shooters, but those are all issues the team has had before at one time or another over the past two seasons, and each time the issues have eventually been corrected. Of course, it’s tough to correct those things on the second night of a back-to-back without a practice, but even if they crop up again tonight, that doesn’t mean there is some unfixable flaw in Miami’s defense.

Danny: There aren’t many similarities between the Rockets and Grizzlies, so I’ll focus on the HEAT side of things. The HEAT struggled with turnovers last night. The Grizzlies force more than any team in the league, but many of the HEAT’s miscues were of the “unforced” nature. The Rockets guards have quick hands and will be lurking in the HEAT passing lanes. Avoid that issue, and the HEAT will be in a much better position to win.

4. Miami gave Jeremy Lin a ton of trouble last year, but should we be reading much from that game?

Couper: It wasn’t just a media-driven narrative that Miami completely shut Lin down last year, but just as we can’t expect Harden to play as he did in the NBA Finals, expecting Lin to have much trouble with Miami’s blitzing pick-and-roll defense isn’t fair to him nor is it an expectation properly founded on much evidence. That being said, Mario Chalmers and Norris Cole essentially upped their defense to playoff levels in that game against the Knicks, and if they do so again it could mean, early on, a few backcourt turnovers for Lin and some easy run-outs for the HEAT.

Danny: Nope. But that’s just because reading much from any one game is pretty fruitless. The HEAT held Lin in check once, but that doesn’t mean they’ll do it again. Lin was a good player then and he’s a good player now. One bad game last February will not stop Lin from having success tonight. The HEAT bring the same defensive intensity that they did for the Knicks game, however, will probably stop Lin from lighting up the scoreboard.

5. Where do most of the points come from tonight?

Couper: Only because I have so much respect for Asik’s defense do I say that Chris Bosh probably won’t have a big scoring night unless that mid-range jumper is regularly open, so I’ll go with Dwyane Wade, who had a difficult shooting night last night but now gets Harden as he’s shouldering a much bigger offensive load and probably hasn’t figured out the best balance between offense and defense, yet. The Rockets are going to struggle with their interior defense when Asik is out of the game, so keep an eye on the bench lineups, too.

Danny: The Rockets are currently boasting the best halfcourt defense in the NBA according to Synergy Sports. It’s tough to gauge what we’re looking at after only six games, but it appears the Rockets are susceptible in transition and in the pick-and-roll. If those are the two best options for the HEAT offense, isn’t the best answer LeBron James and Dwyane Wade? Of course now that I say that Chris Bosh will score 35 points, the majority of which will come in the post.

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I'm looking forward to an efficient game all around by MIAMI.After that debacle of a game against Memphis,MIAMI should look to correct it's wrongs.The HEAT usually bounces back strong after a blowout,can't wait...TEAM HEAT since '88!

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I'm looking forward to an efficient game all around by MIAMI.After that debacle of a game against Memphis,MIAMI should look to correct it's wrongs.The HEAT usually bounces back strong after a blowout,can't wait...TEAM HEAT since '88!

And yes, that was a blowout no matter how you look at it. Memphis looked pretty good, and so did both LA as well as the Spurs last night. Miami is going to have to make some serious changes. Why not stick with what worked. Bosh can't be centre, at least not against teams like the Grizzlies! Can't wait for Team Heat!

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Go Heat! Gotta keep getting better. It was an awful game minutes before half time when Heat lost momemtum. But I was please the team Rebounded well and kept Gasol to a lower point. Clearly you can see Lebron is on cruise control. I do wish we had Jort in the game instead of Battier. Then bring Battier against 2nd unit of other teams where he would match up much better. My lineup:

First Unit: Bron-Wade-Mario-Jort-CB

Second Unit: Bron-Ray-Cole-Battier-JOEL

Third Unit: Lewis-Dwade-Ray-Battier-JOEL

Fourth Unit: Bron(PF)-Miller(SF)-Ray(SG)-Rio(PG)-CB© (this is the Small Ball lineup I AM WAITING FOR)

As you can see, I would limit having dwade out there alone with lbj on the bench without a defensive lineup to covers errors, without Joel.

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I'm a betting man and my forte is tennis, but now the tennis season is over I am becoming actually quite drawn to the basketball, I have noticed Miami have are this "bounce back" team where after a defeat they come back with a reaction and unleash.

Can Houston trouble them? There's been talk of your defence lacking the presence it had last season? Do Houston have a 3 point specialist? Or any star player that can take the game away from you guys if the teams not firing on all cylinders?

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A lost here would not shock me, remember its a back to back game.

To add insult to injury, I hear Dwade's finger is jammed up. It's looking more like you might be right after all....but i hope you're wrong and they win it tonight.

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So with Wade crippled and there being possible fatigue, it's best to bet inplay as you guys might find yourself behind for the first quarter or so and playing catch up, meaning the odds on you guys to win would increase from 1.48? Okay.

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To add insult to injury, I hear Dwade's finger is jammed up. It's looking more like you might be right after all....but i hope you're wrong and they win it tonight.

Oh and I forgot to add remember the Heat are NBA Champions and really no one cares if Wade has a jammed finger or if one of our star player or role players are injured, they will go all out and play the Heat like its a playoff game.

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Go Heat! Gotta keep getting better. It was an awful game minutes before half time when Heat lost momemtum. But I was please the team Rebounded well and kept Gasol to a lower point. Clearly you can see Lebron is on cruise control. I do wish we had Jort in the game instead of Battier. Then bring Battier against 2nd unit of other teams where he would match up much better. My lineup:

First Unit: Bron-Wade-Mario-Jort-CB

Second Unit: Bron-Ray-Cole-Battier-JOEL

Third Unit: Lewis-Dwade-Ray-Battier-JOEL

Fourth Unit: Bron(PF)-Miller(SF)-Ray(SG)-Rio(PG)-CB© (this is the Small Ball lineup I AM WAITING FOR)

As you can see, I would limit having dwade out there alone with lbj on the bench without a defensive lineup to covers errors, without Joel.

This is horrid.

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This is horrid.

Really? Tell me why. I am curious. For so far many Heat fans and cleary the organization hasn't realized that Ud is not the same player....and maybe out some loyalty feel like they need to give him minutes. I say try something new. Like everyone say's "It's early".

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Oh and I forgot to add remember the Heat are NBA Champions and really no one cares if Wade has a jammed finger or if one of our star player or role players are injured, they will go all out and play the Heat like its a playoff game.

?

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Why is LeBron getting the last shot of the half when he's playing scared?

Give the ball to Wade and let him pnr with Bosh to give Bosh an open jumper. He been wet all season long nh. This team is just full of face palms sometimes.

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      Couper: It was 64 points in the paint which won the game for Miami. Hassan Whiteside only had 14 points on eight shots, but a number of early lobs and catches around the paint seemed to get Houston out of its defensive flow. After those early scores, and with usual-starter Clint Capela limited in his first game back from injury, the Rockets had to go out of their way diverting extra attention to Whiteside rolling to the rim – in turn, that created a clear driving lane for Goran Dragic, Dion Waiters, Tyler Johnson and James Johnson to exploit most of the evening. Anytime one of those players was able to beat their man off the dribble or turn the corner quickly out of the pick-and-roll, then they were looking at a layup more often than not.
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