Originally posted on Fox Sports Florida  |  Last updated 11/12/12
The Miami Heat didn't have much trouble with James Harden in last season's NBA Finals. This time, they should expect him to be much more involved in a different uniform. Facing Harden for the first time since winning the NBA title, the Heat will try to minimize his impact again and make it six straight wins against the Houston Rockets on Monday night (8 p.m. ET, Sun Sports). Miami (5-2) won its second championship by beating Oklahoma City in five games last summer, limiting Harden to 12.4 points per contest on 37.5 percent shooting in the series. Harden is the NBA's reigning sixth man of the year, and was key to setting up the finals matchup by averaging 17.6 points over the first three rounds of the playoffs. He had a career-high 16.8 during the regular season. Unable to sign him to a long-term contract, the Thunder dealt Harden to Houston (3-3) as part of a six-player trade last month and he's averaging a team-high 26.5 points per game in a starting role. He didn't need to hit his average against winless Detroit on Saturday, leading the Rockets with 20 points in a 96-82 victory to end a three-game slide. It was the team's first game without coach Kevin McHale, who is on a leave of absence to deal with a family matter. Despite the addition of Harden, Houston ranks near the bottom of the league in shooting percentage (40.6) and 3-point percentage (29.0). However, the Rockets have compensated for those shortcomings with strong defense over their last two games, limiting opponents to 38.5 percent from the field while forcing the Pistons into 18 turnovers. "We're going to start putting things together," Harden said. "I think defensively, we're playing pretty well. Offensively, we just gotta get a feel for each other. Even the games we lost, we were in the games. A couple turnovers here and there just put us away. Hopefully, it comes together soon." Recent history shows that's not likely to happen against the Heat. Miami is averaging 112.2 points during a five-game winning streak against Houston, including a pair of road victories. However, the Heat have lost two of three on the road this season and shot a season-low 38.0 percent in Sunday's 104-86 defeat at Memphis. They connected at a 51.9 percent clip while winning each of the previous four games. Dwyane Wade, averaging 18.3 points, may be in for a bounce-back performance after missing 12 of 15 attempts to finish with a season-low eight points Sunday. A cold forced him to sit out Friday's 95-89 win at Atlanta, the opener of a six-game road trip. The guard has averaged 29.3 points in eight games at Houston, scoring 45 on 17-of-24 shooting in a 125-119 win there on Dec. 29, 2010. Wade missed the only matchup last season with a broken finger and Chris Bosh was out with a leg injury, forcing LeBron James to pick up the slack with 32 points and eight rebounds in a 97-88 home victory April 22. Bosh has been effective in the first two games of this trip, following his 24-point performance Friday with 22 on Sunday. He's averaging 26.0 points over his last four games against Houston.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Sanu: Halftime show played role in Super Bowl collapse

James Dolan is among potential group of investors of new arena for New York Islanders

Report: Rams, Clippers discussing NBA venue in Inglewood

Terrence Jones reportedly interested in joining Celtics

LeBron reverses course, says he ‘always felt good’ about Cavs

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Report: Ole Miss tried to implicate Mississippi State in football scandal

Jamaal Charles could be on the roster bubble

Jimmy Butler on state of Bulls: ‘I just want to win at all costs’

Report: Giants will be ‘aggressive’ in trying to sign Jason Pierre-Paul

Report: Porzingis avoided ligament damage in ankle

Brooks Koepka meltdown includes whiff, stomping head off driver

Top 10 shortstops in baseball for 2017

The most dangerous NBA teams flying under the radar

Eat, Drink, Watch: Your award-worthy weekend planning guide

Grading the NBA trade deadline on the Vince Carter scale

Box Score 2/24: A night of NBA disrespect

As NHL trade deadline nears, seven teams who could be dealing

The 'Pete Rose instead of Kareem? Surely, you can't be serious' quiz

Streaming sports docuseries you don't want to miss

Teams that can prevent a Cavs-Warriors NBA Finals three-peat

The NFL off-season is a passer’s fancy

The Aesthetic: Pushing the boundaries of the three-pointer

NBA coaches who should be fired soon

NBA News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Top 10 shortstops in baseball for 2017

The most dangerous NBA teams flying under the radar

Eat, Drink, Watch: Your award-worthy weekend planning guide

Grading the NBA trade deadline on the Vince Carter scale

Streaming sports docuseries you don't want to miss

As NHL trade deadline nears, seven teams who could be dealing

The 'Pete Rose instead of Kareem? Surely, you can't be serious' quiz

Teams that can prevent a Cavs-Warriors NBA Finals three-peat

The NFL off-season is a passer’s fancy

QUIZ: Name every MLB pitcher who has recorded 10 or more shutouts in a single season

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker