LeBron James and his Miami Heat are ready for their battle with the Houston Rockets tonight following his career-high and franchise record 61 points last night against the Charlotte Bobcats. Miami is riding high on an 8-game winning streak while Houston has also won eight of ten games. The match-up will be a possible NBA Finals preview and pit two of the game’s best teams together in a star-studded clash.
The game will put two of the NBA’s best teams on the floor together, but LeBron’s extraordinary 61-point game has now cast a shadow over things. The newly masked man finally exorcised some demons after admitting more than once early in the season that he was slightly jealous of the gaudy numbers being posted by fellow superstar Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder. He now has his statement game under his belt.
Miami is on a similar torrid run just like last season when the heat rattled off a smooth 27-game winning streak. However, Houston is no slouch. Winners of 19 of the past 25 games, the Rockets have started to mesh together behind a resurgent Dwight Howard and a scorching hot James Harden. The Rockets will need every point they can get from Harden with LeBron on his recent tear.
Miami may very well be without Dwyane Wade once again, which is seemingly the straw the stirs LeBron’s drink. Wade’s injury has given LeBron every chance that Durant had early on with Russell Westbrook’s injury to throw up some crazy numbers. The night wasn’t unpredictable at all, as LeBron basically predicted it weeks ago according to Michael Wallace of ESPN after watching Durant and Carmelo Anthony light up the stat sheets themselves.
This will be the first of two times these teams will meet this season. While Miami could be without Wade once again, Houston should have sharpshooter Chandler Parsons back after a short absence due to an illness. Parsons has been the unsung hero for the Rockets, doing seemingly everything on the court which will possibly include some extended matchups trying to stop LeBron.
The keys to each team winning are very different. Houston will definitely want to dictate the pace and get up and down the floor before Miami can get its defense set. They will also have to utilize Dwight Howard in the post against a very undermanned Heat front line while working Parsons back into the fold to stretch the floor and create passing lanes. If Miami does have one weakness, it is in the paint that was evident last night against Charlotte. LeBron’s 61 made all the headlines, but the Bobcats’ Al Jefferson absolutely decimated whoever Miami threw at him. The big man canned 18 of 24 shots for 38 points and 19 rebounds in a truly masterful performance.
On the other end, the motive is simple; stop LeBron James. LeBron has made at least two-thirds of his shots in all five games since the All-Star break which has resulted in some fantastic scoring numbers with incredible efficiency. If Wade is out and Howard is able to keep Bosh somewhat in check, then all of Miami will be looking towards its superstar to deliver again. This is what LeBron wanted, and he now appears to be relishing this opportunity to erase any possible increasing doubt that he is not the best in the game anymore. Look for him to try to get off for another 40 to 50 points if Wade is out.
LeBron James and his Miami Heat are ready for the Houston Rockets following his franchise record 61 points last night, and it should be a whale of a game. We have yet to see these two teams face off and it should be can’t-miss basketball as we may have our NBA Finals preview tonight.
Commentary by Justin Hussong