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Miami Heat Will Need to Step Up Defensively to Halt Red-Hot Houston Rockets

Miami Heat Big 3

Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

At the beginning of the 2012-13 NBA season, the Miami Heat were one of the worst defensive teams in the league. A team that has always taken pride on the defensive end and relied on the collective ability to make stops down the stretch, all of a sudden looked committed to outscoring the opposition, rather than buckling down defensively.

The Heat sustained a lot of criticism for what seemed to be the team’s new mentality, yet Erik Spoelstra continued to stress that the NBA champions would eventually get back on track.

In the first 10 games of the season, Miami allowed over 100 points per game, but have made significant improvements since then. In the last 10 games, Miami has held the opposition to a mere 91.1 points per game, and now rank 11th in the league in points allowed.

Another weakness that was exposed earlier in the season was Miami’s poor perimeter defense, as the Heat constantly got burned from long range. Teams around the league have not been shy with putting up long range shots against the champions this year, as Miami’s opponents jack up 21.8 treys per game.

Speaking of three-pointers, the Houston Rockets will be entering American Airlines Arena tonight fresh of a historic night. Last night, the Rockets released a barrage of three-pointers over the Golden State Warriors, tying an NBA single-game record by sinking 23 shots from beyond the arc.

The red-hot Rockets are 5-1 in their last six games, and will be looking to continue their winning ways in South Beach tonight. You can bet that Kevin McHale’s team will let it fly from downtown, as the Rockets are second in the league in three-point attempts.

Miami has held opponents to 29.9% from three-point range in the last five games, and will be forced to put the improved perimeter defense on display tonight, or face the risk of experiencing a similar cold shower the Warriors got last night.

Vytis covers the Miami Heat for You can follow him on twitter here: @VytisLasaitis