Miami (27-21) at Houston (25-25)
When: Tuesday, February 2nd 2016
Where: Toyota Center, Houston, TX
Time: 8:05 ET | TV: NBA TV
The Houston Rockets will try and get back on track when they host the surging Miami Heat on Tuesday night. Houston has followed up a three-game winning streak with a three-game losing skid after Saturday’s 123-122 home loss against the Washington Wizards. The Rockets are surrendering an average of 123 points in those three losses and Dwight Howard was ejected from each of the last two games and is unhappy with how contact on the inside is being officiated. Houston interim coach J.B. Bickerstaff was not afraid to call out the referees after Saturday’s loss. “It’s not fair the way the referees ref Dwight,” Bickerstaff told reporters. “You can go back and look at clip after clip after clip. They initiate contact with him, they grab him, they hold him. Dwight gets punished more than anybody in the league. The referees need to be held accountable.” Howard still managed to score 20 points on 7-of-11 shooting in 29 minutes on Saturday after being held to 8 points in 21 minutes the previous night against Oklahoma City. Star James Harden has not slumped with the rest of the team scoring 33 or more points in three of the last four games. The Rockets have slipped to the 7th seed out West, just two games clear of Utah (9th).
Miami has taken a different direction than the Rockets, following up four consecutive losses with four straight wins after Sunday’s 105-87 win over Atlanta. The Heat were battling injuries all January, but are almost 100% healthy. Hassan Whiteside (12.3 points, 11.2 rebounds) has missed the last four games with back issues and is not expected back for the Houston game. Whiteside was particularly good in the November 1st meeting with Houston scoring 25 points and bringing down 15 rebounds in Miami’s 109-89 win. Amar’e Stoudemire has moved into the starting lineup at center and Chris Bosh has slid over to the middle at times with the second unit. Stoudemire scored 13 points and grabbed 12 boards in just 21 minutes on Sunday as six Heat players scored nine or more points. First round pick Justise Winslow was particularly good off the bench getting 10 points and 9 rebounds in 33 minutes of action. It was just his sixth double-digit scoring effort of the season, but his second in three games. Miami took over first-place in the Southeast Division with the victory over Atlanta on Sunday and are tied with Chicago for the 3rd seed in the East.
Miami is just playing too well right now to be getting five points. Houston is very inconsistent and struggling right now. I’ll take the hotter team and the points in this one.
Pick: Heat +5