PREVIEW: Rockets at Heat- Feb. 10

Feb 8, 2023; Miami, Florida, USA; Miami Heat guard Gabe Vincent (2) celebrates with forward Jimmy Butler (22) after scoring during the fourth quarter against the Indiana Pacers at Miami-Dade Arena. Mandatory Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

PREVIEW: Rockets at Heat- Feb. 10

The Rockets will open the post-Eric Gordon era when they visit the Miami Heat on Friday night. The Rockets traded Gordon, their longest-tenured player, to the Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday, so they will be without a player with whom they are 2-31 without over the last two seasons. Friday’s game is the first of a five-game road trip that will take the Rockets past the All-Star break.

Eye on the Heat

Record: 30-25 (6th in Eastern Conference)

Offensive rating (rank): 111.2 (26th)

Defensive rating (rank): 111.1 (5th)

Miami has righted the ship after a slow start to the season due in part to the great play of Bam Adebayo at both ends of the floor. Selected to the All-Star Game, Adebayo is averaging 22 points and 10 rebounds per game this season, and he’s only missed three of Miami’s last 39 games. Jimmy Butler was not named an Eastern Conference All-Star, but he continues to play at a high level and is also scoring 22 points a night. He missed 9-of-22 games to start the season but has played in 17 of the last 18 games. The Heat stayed relatively quiet at the trade deadline, with their only move being a salary dump of Dewayne Dedmon.

Matchup to watch: Jalen Green vs. Tyler Herro

Herro lit the Rockets up for 41 points at Toyota Center in December and scored 31 points against them last March in Miami. Kevin Porter Jr. was matched up with Herro more than anyone else in December, but he’ll miss his 15th straight game on Friday due to his left foot injury, and Gordon was matched up with him the second most, and he’s no longer with the team, so the assignment will likely fall on Green. Herro is only shooting 40%, 28% from behind the 3-point line since returning from an Achilles injury that kept him out of three games last month, but the Heat run a lot of their offense through him, and while he can beat you off the dribble, he can also move without the ball and beat you on the catch.

What I’m watching for

The Rockets rotation would seem to be in flux after Thursday’s trades. The trade of Gordon cements K.J. Martin’s spot in the starting lineup for the rest of the season, but who starts in the backcourt with Green while Porter remains out? It’s been Daishen Nix recently, but do the Rockets want to get a better look at TyTy Washington? Then there are the center minutes behind Alperen Sengun. The trade of Bruno Fernando would seem to ensure Usman Garuda’s place as Sengun’s backup, but the Rockets could choose to play small. When Sengun missed a game in Detroit last month, Stephen Silas opted to play small with Jabari Smith Jr. starting at center rather than Fernando or Garuba.

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