The 11-30 Miami Heat host the 32-11 Houston Rockets tonight in a matchup between two teams who have performed significantly different from preseason expectations (7:30 p.m. ET Tuesday). Miami has been a disappointment with its poor offense, and the Rockets have done better than expected on both ends of the floor.
On paper, this matchup is lopsided in favor of Houston. However there are definitely several factors that could create an unexpected result. After all, the Rockets have lost games they were supposed to win this season and the Heat have won games they were supposed to lose.
So as this preview analyses the influences at play, we need to keep an open mind before deciding on this NBA game’s betting predictions and picks.
Is Clint Capela in Good Enough Shape to Slow Down Hassan Whiteside?
The Heat’s best player is Hassan Whiteside (pictured). He averages 17.5 points, 14.3 rebounds and 2.2 blocks per game and often commands double teams in the post because of his size and inside touch.
Which Rockets player will be able to stop him? The best option is center Clint Capela, but he’ll be returning to the lineup Tuesday for the first time following a 15-game absence due to a leg injury.
If Capela is just as mobile and explosive as normal, he has a very good shot at keeping Whiteside contained himself. If he’s not close to 100 percent, Whiteside could have a big scoring game or use the threat of his post-ups to get his teammates good looks. He’s improved a lot as a passer in recent games.
Of course, if Capela isn’t 100 percent or plays limited minutes, the Rockets could have a lot of trouble with Whiteside. Montrezl Harrell is too short, Nene is too slow and Ryan Anderson is too small and weak to check the Heat star.
Which Team Will Dictate the Pace?
This is a key for any Houston opponent. The Rockets love it when teams try to run with them, because they are almost always better than their opponents in transition. Other squads often go for layups in transition, while the Rockets usually end up with open threes that are in rhythm.
The Heat are one of the slower-paced teams in the league, and they’d like to keep it that way on Tuesday. If the Rockets are getting shot after shot in quick succession, that’s when their hot shooters (Eric Gordon, James Harden and Ryan Anderson, specifically) can find their groove.
Miami can do its part to slow down the pace by looking for Whiteside for a lot of offensive down low. Even if the big man misses a few shots, the rebounds will likely be short off the rim and not ignite the Houston fast break.
Can the Miami Bench Outplay the Rockets’ Bench?
The Rockets’ starters are far better than their Heat counterparts. No one in their right mind would pick Goran Dragic, Dion Waiters, Rodney McGruder, Luke Babbitt and Hassan Whiteside over James Harden, Patrick Beverley, Trevor Ariza, Ryan Anderson and Montrezl Harrell. It’s extremely unlikely that the Heat starters would outplay the Rockets starters on a given night.
Therefore, it’s up to the Miami bench to have a big night on both ends of the court, especially when stars like Harden and Whiteside are resting. The Heat and Rocket benches are pretty evenly-matched, with solid contributors like Eric Gordon, Nene and Sam Dekker helping the Houston effort and Tyler Johnson, James Johnson and Willie Reed making an impact for Miami.
The Johnsons are players we should especially keep an eye on. Tyler is a solid defender and has enough offensive game as a shooter and slasher to be a threat for 25 points every night. James is a poor man’s Draymond Green who does a variety of things well, including finishing at the rim, shooting, defending in space and passing.
If either of those guys explode for big nights, the Rockets could be in trouble.
Our Preview’s Houston Rockets vs Miami Heat Betting Predictions & Picks
The Rockets are the obvious favorite to win this game. Miami doesn’t have the offensive weapons outside of Whiteside and Dragic to keep up in the scoring column with the likes of Harden, Gordon, Anderson and Capela. Big performances from the Heat bench could change that, but we certainly shouldn’t expect them to explode.
Houston has an average point differential of plus-9.3 in road games against sub-.500 competition, and the Heat are quite a bit below .500. So now, it’s just a matter of what the line is.
- Almost all the bookmakers that accept American players have the Rockets favored by 7.5 points. Taking Houston -7.5pts @ -110 with 5Dimes Sportsbook is arguably the smart play here. It is -112 for the same spread with BetOnline and -115 with Bovada.
- The most common over-under for this game is 220pts, and you should take the over 220pts @ -110 with 5Dimes or BetOnline. Houston is going to find its preferred pace early on, get ahead by several points and also force the Heat to play fast in order to make a comeback attempt.
Jared is a lifelong sports fan and writer whose specialist subject is NBA. A 2015 graduate of Indiana Wesleyan University, with a bachelor’s degree in journalism, Jared has been a sought-after freelance sports writer. In addition to his valuable USA Betting contributions, he has also written for other top media outlets.