MIAMI (CBSMiami/AP) – Even without LeBron James, the Miami Heat have fared just fine as a familiar superstar has led the team to a perfect 3-0 start.
It’s hard to imagine where the Heat would be without Chris Bosh, who re-signed this summer after nearly landing in Houston.
The Rockets, meanwhile, have fared just fine without him.
Miami and Houston have both proven unbeatable heading into Tuesday night’s heavyweight showdown in South Beach.
Bosh has been a force thus far with career-best marks of 25.7 points, 11.3 rebounds and 4.0 assists per game. The nine-time All-Star finished with 21, 11 and four in Sunday’s 107-102 win over Toronto as the Heat held a 43-28 edge on the glass.
“I guess it’s just effort,” Bosh said. “We know a lot of people aren’t expecting us to do much on the boards. That’s a little bit of inspiration.”
The Heat, averaging 109.3 points to rank second in the league, are 3-0 for the first time since winning their first five games in 2011-12.
“We’re three games into this so it could quickly go the other way if guys start to feel comfortable and try to start to do it on their own,” coach Erik Spoelstra told the team’s official website. “And that’s not the makeup of this group. That’s not at all a referendum on our personnel, it’s the power of working together that will make us more successful.
“The guys see it. They see how our team will have to play to be successful.”
The Rockets (4-0) are enjoying their best start since opening 6-0 in 1996-97 after Monday’s 104-93 win at Philadelphia. James Harden had 35 points and nine rebounds while going 17 of 18 from the foul line. The 76ers, meanwhile, made 16 of 23 free throws as a team.
Houston is averaging 105.0 points and allowing just 91.5 per game, a huge improvement after surrendering 103.1 last season.
“We still have stuff to work on,” coach Kevin McHale said. “We just have to keep on going out there and understanding that we have a lot of work to do, we’re not a finished product by any stretch of the imagination.”
While the Rockets haven’t had much issue getting by lesser teams thus far, their next two games likely won’t be as easy. Houston will try to avoid a ninth loss in 10 games against the Heat before hosting San Antonio on Thursday.
“They’re two extremely great teams,” said Harden, averaging 29.0 points over a three-game stretch against Miami. “Two different styles of play, but two good teams. It’s going to be a great test, one on the road, one at home. (Tuesday’s) going to be a good game for us.”
Houston has dropped 15 of 19 road matchups in the series, including five straight by an average of 12.6 points. The Rockets fell 113-104 during their last visit March 16 despite a combined 51 points from Harden and Dwight Howard. Bosh and Dwyane Wade combined for 42 points.
“We came out tonight and got the job done,” Howard said after Monday’s win. “Defense was solid. Now we have to do that against Miami, who plays great at home. D-wade, Chris Bosh. They’re doing a good job on the offensive end and we have to be able to match that.”
Wade is averaging 26.9 points against the Rockets for one of his highest marks against any team.
Trevor Ariza has been a major contributor in Houston’s perfect start, averaging 17.3 points while going 16 of 27 from 3-point range. He scored 24 to go with seven assists against the 76ers.
“He knows who he is, he takes his shots,” McHale said of Ariza. “He’s playing very well for us.”
(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)
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