The Miami Heat, who have won seven straight home games, are set to host the last-place Houston Rockets on Friday night.
Miami is 18-9 at home this season, while Houston enters Thursday with the NBA’s worst record (13-42) and is 5-22 on the road.
The Heat have three elite scorers in Jimmy Butler (22.0 points per game), Bam Adebayo (21.8) and Tyler Herro (20.3).
Adebayo is coming off a huge 38-point performance in Miami’s 116-111 win over the visiting Indiana Pacers on Wednesday night. Adebayo made 12 of 16 shots from the floor, and many of those were mid-range jumpers.
He also went 14-for-14 from the foul line in an impressive display of shooting from a big man who is all of 6-foot-9 and 255 pounds.
Then again, Adebayo has scored 30 or more points 10 times this season. That matches the total of all other Heat players combined.
In fact, no Heat player has had that many 30-point games in one season since LeBron James in 2013-14.
“(Adebayo) has found a great balance,” Butler said. “And if a player has the hot hand, you’ve got to keep feeding that individual. You’ve got to ride that wave.”
Adebayo, who also leads Miami in rebounds (10.0 per game), is shooting 80.5 percent from the foul line and 55.1 percent on 2-pointers.
His inspired play has helped the Heat carry on without starting point guard Kyle Lowry, who has missed two straight games due to a knee injury. Reserve guard Victor Oladipo (ankle injury) has missed the past three games.
Houston, meanwhile, has lost four straight, including a 130-128 defeat to the visiting Sacramento Kings on Wednesday night.
Compared to Houston’s two previous losses — which were by a combined total of 52 points — Rockets coach Stephen Silas was pleased with his team’s effort.
“We played with much more conviction, physicality, ball pressure — all those things,” Silas said. “We should have won that game.”
While the Heat stood pat before Thursday’s 3 p.m. ET trade deadline, the Rockets sent veteran guard Eric Gordon to the Los Angeles Clippers in a three-team swap that also included the Memphis Grizzlies.
In the deal, the Rockets acquired veteran guards John Wall and Danny Green. Back with Houston, Wall is expected to receive a buyout, per the Houston Chronicle.
The Rockets are missing combo guard Kevin Porter Jr., who is second on the team with a career-high scoring average (19.2). Porter, who has a foot injury, hasn’t played since Jan. 11. Houston is 3-11 in this stretch without him.
With Porter out, Houston’s leader is Jalen Green, who turned 21 on Thursday. Green, the NBA’s No. 2 overall pick in 2021, tops Houston in scoring (22.0). As a rookie last season, he averaged 17.3 points.
Alperen Sengun, Houston’s 6-foot-9 starting center, will likely get the assignment to battle Adebayo. Sengun, a 20-year-old native of Turkey in his second season, leads Houston in rebounds (8.8 per game) and ranks third in scoring (15.4).
At forward, the Rockets have two more young starters — Kenyon Martin Jr., 22, and 19-year-old Jabari Smith Jr.
Smith, the NBA’s third overall pick in last year’s draft, gives the Rockets size up front at 6-feet-10. He is averaging 11.8 points and ranks second on the team in rebounds (6.9).
Martin, who is in his third year, is averaging career highs in points (11.6) and rebounding (5.5).
–Field Level Media