James Harden, Jeremy Lin and the Houston Rockets look to keep their momentum going Wednesday night against LeBron James, Dwayne Wade and the NBA world champion Miami Heat at 7:30 p.m. (Photo : Reuters)
One night removed from an impressive 140-109 victory over the formidable Golden State Warriors, Jeremy Lin and James Harden will lead the Houston Rockets (27-23) to one of its greatest challenges yet Wednesday-facing when they head to the American Airlines Arena in Miami, Fla., to take on LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, Chris Bosh and the NBA Champion Miami Heat (31-14.)
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Lin led the Rockets with 28 points and nine assists--including a career-high five three-pointers--in one of his finest outings of the season as he and seven other Rockets players were in double figures when they dominated the Warriors while tying an NBA record with 23 three-pointers.
With this win, the Rockets have won six of their last eight games, which provides them valuable momentum heading into their Wednesday game with Miami, who are rolling along with eight wins in their last 11 games.
Meanwhile, James has been scoring at a red-hot pace, coming off a 31-point game against Charlotte on Monday. Harden, however, has been seeing his scoring numbers decline in the last few games. Houston's offense, ranked second in the NBA with 105.1 points per game, will certainly find a test in Miami, whose defense only allows 96.5 points to opponents this season.
The last time these two teams met on Nov. 12, James scored 32 of his 38 points in the second half to lead Miami to a narrow 113-110 victory over the Rockets in Houston. Will the script be flipped when the Heat play host to the Rockets this time around in South Beach? Or will LeBron and company get yet another win?
Latinos Post breaks down the top matchups for Wednesday's game:
Power forward: Udonis Haslem, Heat vs. Patrick Patterson, Rockets
Haslem's forte is defense. He excels at it and he's pretty good at it. Which is good, because Patterson is coming into this game playing very effectively, having scored 13.0 points on 59.6 percent shooting in the last five games. An efficient Patterson on offense can mean more for Houston's offense than he's given credit for.
Small forward: LeBron James, Heat vs. Chandler Parsons, Rockets
Parsons has been extremely effective of late, averaging 17.8 points over his last five games on 59 percent shooting. But unfortunately, he's about to run against a buzzsaw in James, the standard bearer among forwards. The second-lead vote-getter in the NBA All-Star Game fan voting has been on fire over his last 10 games, scoring 29.7 points and shooting 59.9 percent while leading his team in rebounds with 8.3 per game.
Parsons will need help from Chandler down low to try and deny James his run of the paint. They can't stop James, but they might be able to slow him down.
Center: Chris Bosh, Heat vs. Omer Asik, Rockets
After struggling in the last three games, Bosh has bounced back on offense with 25.5 points in the last two games. However, he's not much of a rebounder, which is where Asik can dominate. With 11.4 boards per game, Asik is third in the league in rebounds, and he has been swiping them at a furious pace in the last five games with 16.6 of them.
Asik will have to work double-time in the paint for this game, trying to keep the dangerous Bosh under wraps while trying to block out the middle for devastating penetrators James and Wade.
Shooting Guard: Dwayne Wade, Heat vs. James Harden, Rockets
There aren't many two-guards who can keep up with the electrifying Harden these days. But Wade, a fellow NBA All-Star for this year's game in Houston, is one of them. Harden's production has been slipping over the last five games with only 22.8 points per game--down from his usual standards--but he's still Houston's deadliest offensive weapon. Wade, meanwhile, has been his steady, productive self for Miami, averaging 19.6 points over the last five games.
Expect these two to go back and forth all evening. But Harden will need to find a way to keep Wade under wraps. More than anyone, Wade is the key to Miami's offense. Take him out of the equation, and Miami's road to victory doesn't come nearly as easily. The same can be said of Harden. He has to have a big night on offense, but if Wade can guard him aggressively, Harden could have a bad night at a time where Houston could use him the most.
Point Guard: Mario Chalmers, Heat vs. Jeremy Lin, Rockets
The first time around that Lin faced the Heat last season, he was humbled, guarded relentlessly by Miami in a game that signaled the end of the "Linsanity" offensive streak, for all intents and purposes. As a competitor, Lin surely remembers that, and he's likely hungry for payback. And his 28-point game against Golden State on Tuesday couldn't have come at a better time, as he's averaging 17.0 points and 7.6 assists coming in against Miami.
Chalmers can do damage from the three-point line, but he'll need to shore up his defense to make sure Lin doesn't get too much momentum. Lin could benefit from using his quickness to his advantage to penetrate, but if he encounters too much pressure, look for him to try and find Harden and Parsons in the wings.
Ray Allen is the Heat's most lethal weapon off the bench, deadly from three-point territory, though is production is slightly down over the last week at 7.9 points, down from his 10.9 point season average. Shane Battier is also a three-point marksman who adds hellacious defense while Norris Cole adds depth at the point guard position.
For Houston, super sub Carlos Delfino sat out Tuesday with an elbow injury, but Marcus Morris picked up the slack with 13 points. They'll need big minutes from him and steady support Toney Douglas, Greg Smith and Patrick Beverly to keep pace. The bench could be the difference in the game, but Delfino, who could be a game time decision, would surely help the Rockets' cause.
Game time, live score
Game time starts at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, EST. Live score is available via TV Companion, here.
Live Streaming for the Game is can be seen via NBA League Pass. (Service Provider Required)