A pair of teams on opposite sides of the playoff cut line take the floor in an interconference tilt in the Sunshine State as they play the second game of a back-to-back set. The Houston Rockets are on the road as they make the trip to face the Miami Heat Monday night. Houston was in action on the road Sunday night as they faced Orlando in another interconference tilt. The Rockets were waxed 128-99 at home by Denver in their previous contest Friday night. Miami was at home against Brooklyn in a battle of Eastern Conference teams Sunday afternoon. The Heat were beaten 119-111 on the road by Minnesota in their previous game Friday night. In the all-time regular-season series between the teams, the Heat owns a 34-33 advantage. That includes a 101-94 road victory in the first matchup this season back on February 11.
Houston Rockets Hoping to Reverse StrugglesHouston was in action against Orlando on the road Sunday night and went into that game losers of five straight and 10 of their last 11. The Rockets are in the basement of the Southwest Division, 16.5 games behind the Mavericks for the top spot. In the Western Conference playoff picture, the team is 15th, 13.5 games behind the Spurs for the final spot in the expanded playoff field. Houston is 4-6 in the second game of a back-to-back situation this season as they average 111.7 points per game while allowing 112.8 ppg in those situations. The Rockets are 7-21 on the road with a -6.3 ppg scoring differential (110 ppg for, 116.3 ppg against) this season. Houston is a dismal 4-19 against Eastern Conference teams with a -8.3 ppg scoring margin (107 ppg for, 115.3 ppg against) this season.
The Rockets enter this contest 24th in the league with 108.1 points per game on the season. Houston is 26th in rebounding by collecting 42.4 boards a night while they are 25th in assists with 23.1 dimes per contest. The Rockets are 27th in scoring defense as they give up an average of 115 points per game on the year. Christian Wood leads the team with 21 points plus 9.4 rebounds per game this season. John Wall (20.6 points, 6.8 assists), Kelly Olynyk (11.8 points, 6.5 rebounds) and Eric Gordon (17.8 points) are the other players averaging in double figures. Ben McLemore, Avery Bradley, Sterling Brown, D.J. Augustin, Dante Exum, David Nwaba, Jae’Sean Tate (11 points, 5.4 rebounds), Danuel House Jr., Kevin Porter Jr. (15 points, 6.4 assists) and Justin Patton are key pieces of the rotation as well for coach Stephen Silas. Houston is 28th in field goal percentage as they shoot 44.2% as a team from the floor. The Rockets are 10th in threes per game as they knock down 13.4 triples a night and stand 30th in three-point shooting by hitting 33.6% from beyond the arc. Exum remains in a walking boot after straining a calf muscle on January 5.
Gordon is out four to six weeks with a groin strain. Nwaba (wrist) is out indefinitely while House Jr. (ankle) isn’t expected to return until after the team’s game on April 19 against the Heat. Augustin (ankle) is in a walking boot and underwent an MRI on Thursday so don’t expect him to suit up anytime soon.
Miami Heat Looking to Gain Ground in Eastern Conference Playoff PictureMiami entered Sunday’s game with the Nets losers of three straight after winning six of their previous seven. The Heat entered Sunday second in the Southeast Division, two games behind the Hawks for the top spot. In the Eastern Conference playoff picture, the team stood seventh in the standings, 11 games behind the 76ers for the top spot, 1.5 games behind the sixth-place Knicks for a guaranteed playoff spot and five games ahead of 11th-place Washington to be in the playoff picture at all. Miami is 4-5 in the second game of back-to-back situations as they average 108.8 points per game while allowing 108.4 points per game in those situations. The Heat are 15-13 at home this season with a -0.5 ppg scoring differential (108.6 ppg for, 109.1 ppg against) on the year. Miami is 12-13 against Western Conference teams with a -1.4 ppg scoring margin (105.3 ppg for, 106.7 ppg against) this season.
Still battling 💥 pic.twitter.com/yKhc1TKW1g— Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) April 17, 2021
The Heat enters this one 26th in the league in scoring offense with 106.3 points per game this season. Miami is 28th in the league in rebounding with 41.7 boards a contest while the team stands 9th in assists by dishing out 26.1 dimes a night. The Heat stands 3rd in the league in scoring defense as they allow 107.7 points per game. Bam Adebayo is second on the team with 19 points plus 9.2 rebounds and 5.2 assists per contest. Goran Dragic chips in 13.1 points plus 4.4 assists a night while Duncan Robinson puts up 13 points per contest. Tyler Herro (14.9 points) and Jimmy Butler (21.4 points, 7.2 rebounds, 7.2 assists) are averaging in double figures as well. Precious Achiuwa, Victor Oladipo, Gabe Vincent, Trevor Ariza, Andre Iguodala, Kendrick Nunn (13.5 points) and Nemanja Bjelica are solid role players for the Heat. Miami is 20th in the league in field goal percentage as they shoot 46.1% from the floor this season. The Heat stands 16th in threes per game by draining 12.5 triples per contest and the team is 26th in three-point shooting by hitting 34.7% from beyond the arc.
Oladipo has missed a week with a knee injury while Iguodala (hip) and Butler (ankle) were both questionable for Sunday’s game. Keep an eye on updates regarding their statuses for this one.
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Best Bets for this Game
Full-Game Side Bet
Both teams are playing the second game of a back-to-back situation and their third game in four nights here. This could be a battle of attrition as the Rockets are dealing with a slew of injuries while the Heat have some question marks in their own rotation. Houston has been brutal on the road this season, winning just seven of their 28 contests as the visiting team entering Sunday. The Rockets had dropped 10 of 11 entering Sunday and there’s little reason to have a ton of faith in a team going nowhere. Miami has struggled, losing six straight, winning six of seven and dropping their last three. Still, if the Heat want to stay out of the play-in tournament, they have to win games like this. Give the Heat the advantage here.
Full-Game Total Pick
Houston is fifth in the league in tempo as they average 101.1 possessions a night on the season. Unfortunately for the team, it hasn’t helped them put up a ton of production on that end of the floor as they are second-worst in the league in field goal percentage. As it stands, the Rockets are 24th in the league in field goal percentage defense (47.2%) on the year. Miami is just 28th in the league in tempo with 96.9 possessions a game as they tend to play at a slow pace. The Heat have had their struggles on the offensive end but their defense has done the job when it comes to keeping them in games. In the first meeting, the teams combined for 195 points and with both teams injured, not to mention fatigued, this one ends up under the total.