The Houston Rockets arrive in Florida on the back of a win on Sunday night, arresting a five-game skid. In the midst of a rebuild, their focus will now be on the next campaign and how their players can use the rest of this year to continue their development.
Fixture - Houston Rockets vs Miami Heat | 2020-21 NBA Season.
Date & Time - Monday, April 19th; 8:00 PM ET (Tuesday, April 20th; 5:30 AM IST).
Venue - AmericanAirlines Arena, Miami, FL
Houston Rockets Preview
Having faced some of the best teams in the league over their last ten matchups, the Houston Rockets sit just a half-game above the foot of the Western Conference. It is no surprise the Rockets had the worst defensive rating in the league during that run, conceding 120.2 points per game.
Although they have only won four games since the 5th of February, the Houston Rockets have players that can make them more competitive. Christian Wood is one of the most exciting centers in the league, while Kevin Porter Jr. has adapted flawlessly to the NBA since making his move from the G-League.
As well as having a firesale of their top talent, the Houston Rockets have also struggled with injuries this campaign, with John Wall and Wood missing considerable minutes.
Their fixture list for the run-in will be extremely challenging for any side, let alone one in the midst of a rebuild. Fans of the franchise will very much be looking ahead to next season and how this team can develop and who they can add in the draft.
Key Player - Christian Wood
In a bitterly disappointing year, Christian Wood's burst onto the scene of big men in the NBA has been exciting for Houston Rockets fans looking for a new franchise star.
Although the 25-year-old has been limited by injury, playing only 34 games, he has averaged an impressive 21.1 points and 9.4 rebounds and leads all current Houston Rockets players in both categories. Wood is one of the leading candidates for the Most Improved Player award, shooting at over 53% from the field and 38% from downtown.
He can be as dominant as the elite centers of the NBA, blocking 1.2 shots per night this season and averaging a double-double in half of his appearances.
Houston Rockets Predicted Lineup
Point Guard - John Wall l Shooting Guard - Kevin Porter Jr. l Small Forward - Jae'Sean Tate l Power Forward - Kelly Olynyk l Center - Christian Wood.
Miami Heat Preview
The Miami Heat were on a worrying slide prior to Sunday afternoon's win over the Brooklyn Nets. A three-game losing streak culminated in a shocking loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves, after which star Jimmy Butler called out his team for being soft and encouraged center Bam Adebayo to play 'bully ball'.
Butler's comments seemed to be all the motivation his teammates needed as, in his absence, the Miami Heat overcame Kyrie Irving and co. with Adebayo sinking a thrilling game-winner. The 23-year-old was particularly impressive on the night, as he defended Irving on switches while leading his team with 21 points and 15 rebounds.
Butler perhaps wants to address the Heat's issues now before it becomes too late, knowing that they have a chance in the playoffs. The Miami Heat have the pieces to be an outside contender once again this year with the 6th-best defense in the league and three All-Star caliber players.
Key Player - Bam Adebayo
In the first year of his maximum contract with the franchise, Bam Adebayo has been the Miami Heat's anchor on both ends of the floor all season. His 19 points per night ranks 6th among all centers, as does his defensive rating of 107.7.
Adebayo continues to improve his offensive efficiency, averaging career-high points, assists and made free-throws. He ranks inside the top-ten big men for opposition points allowed in the paint and in the top-three for defensive win share, both of which will be crucial if the Miami Heat are to succeed in the playoffs, against the likes of Joel Embiid and Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Miami Heat Predicted Lineup
Point Guard - Kendrick Nunn l Shooting Guard - Duncan Robinson l Small Forward - Trevor Ariza l Power Forward - Jimmy Butler l Center - Bam Adebayo.
Rockets vs Heat Match Prediction
Unfortunately for the Houston Rockets, their opponents will likely be too strong in this matchup. The Miami Heat allow the 3rd-least points and field goals per game and are in the top-5 for the fewest turnovers given up.
Two matchups will be highly intriguing for those watching, however. Should Jimmy Butler return to the Miami Heat lineup, he could face off against former teammate Kelly Olynyk, who is averaging 18.5 points since arriving at the Houston Rockets. There will also be a potentially game-deciding battle down low between our two featured stars - Christian Wood and Bam Adebayo.
The Miami Heat should come away with a comfortable victory from this fixture.
Where to watch the Rockets vs Heat Matchup
Fans in America can catch the game on Bally Sports Sun and AT&T Sportsnet - Southwest. The matchup will also be available to stream live with an NBA League Pass.