Here’s a frightening statistic:
LeBron James this season: – 52 games without mask: 26.9 PPG, 57.7 FG pct – 3 games with mask: 37.3 PPG, 67.2 FG pct pic.twitter.com/zsSROVF7lx
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) March 4, 2014
So…should we all get our noses broken at some point, just so we can get better at anything we do?
I think not but the point remains obvious – LeBron James has been stellar in recent weeks, culminating in last night’s historic 61-point explosion. And where King James leads, the Heat (43-14) is sure to follow, posting eight consecutive wins among some of the league’s best teams.
But one team that Miami has yet to face this season is almost as hot, the Houston Rockets (40-19). Winners of 11 out of their last 13 games, Houston has found a way to make the most of the players on their roster, from The Beard to D12. James Harden is the catalyst, at nearly 25 points per game but the big (freakishly so) man in the middle, Dwight Howard, has moved past the drama of the past two seasons and reverted to the All-Star form he once had in Orlando. Howard’s 19 PPG, along with nearly 13 rebounds and 2 blocks, have put him back at the top of the NBA’s short list of elite centers. But it’s the play of Chandler Parson, mixing up long-range shots with the occasional drive to the hoop, along with the unexpected scoring punch from Terrence Jones that has pushed Houston during their recent success.
On the Heat side of the equation, Dwyane Wade returns after sitting out Monday’s game (as part of his season-long maintenance program). With James likely facing some fatigue (although, as with most superhuman, it’s hard to tell exactly how he’ll react), it’s crucial that Wade takes on the bulk of the scoring load. While he’ll be challenged to stop Harden, The Beard’s “defense” is porous – look for Wade to mix up his “old man game” against Houston.
Chris Bosh – a Houston native – should be a factor as well. With Howard protecting the paint, Bosh’s ability to space the floor will be a major factor.
But, aside from the matchup of two of the best teams in the league that includes five All-Stars and SEVEN potential Hall-of-Famers, the battle between Howard and Greg Oden will be interesting to see. Oden seems more relaxed on the floor and, while he still draws fouls at a high rate, having him go up against the best center in the league will be great and terrifying:
Run for cover, everyone. This one could get ugly.
The telecast of this game begins at 8 P.M. on Sun Sports and NBA TV from the Toyota Center in Houston. Check back with AllUCanHeat for a recap after the game.