Houston Rockets NBA

Heat visit surging Rockets before All-Star break

Houston Rockets guard James Harden

Photo Credit: Chuck Burton / AP Photo

The Miami Heat are trying to avoid going into the All-Star break with three straight losses. The only way they can do that is by beating the surging Houston Rockets on Wednesday. Houston’s coming into the matchup off of four consecutive wins.

“It’s good for us,” All-Star guard James Harden said. “We got one more game before the break, and we want to finish up strong. We get a couple of days of rest and ready for the last push and the postseason.”

The Heat may be skidding right now, but before these last two losses, they’d won a stunning 13 in a row, putting them into contention for a top eight spot in the East. Still, they had a rough enough start to the season that they need to keep up those wins to have a chance at the postseason.

The last time these two teams met was Jan. 17 in Miami, when the Heat surprised everyone by beating Houston 109-103. In fact, that was the start of their 13-game winning streak that only ended Saturday.

The key to tonight’s game – for both teams – is defense. Miami’s challenge will be stopping Harden from scoring his usual 40 (or more!) points. Obviously, the Rockets are fine offensively (with Harden leading the way), so they’ll want to focus on defense against the Heat. On Saturday, they held the Phoenix Suns to 39.4 percent shooting, so if they can do that again, they’re in great shape.

“We’re in a good place, I like our defensive effort,” Harden told ESPN.com. “I think that’s really important. We score, we can score the ball at a high level. Defensively, we’re locked in, and we’re helping each other out. We’re communicating, and we’ve gotten better and we’ll continue to grow and get better. And ultimately, if we want to get to where we want to go, that’s going to have to be at a high level.”

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