Feb 16, 2014; New Orleans, LA, USA; Eastern Conference forward LeBron James (6) of the Miami Heat guard Western Conference guard James Harden (13) of the Houston Rockets during the 2014 NBA All-Star Game at the Smoothie King Center. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
Houston Rockets Game Day: Early Game facing James’ Hot Cavalier Squad:
Cleveland Cavaliers vs Houston Rockets
Sun Mar 1, 3:30 PM EST – NBAt, FSOh, CSNH, ABC, C+D, Toyota Center – Houston, TX
The early start should draw a fairly big audience given the national audience the teams will be exposed to and it brings the perfect headline as two Most Valuable Player candidates suit up to meet each other. Unfortunately Harden is still nursing a sore ankle while James is well rested having sat out his last game versus Indiana.
With teams in the East struggling to get wins (Washington, Toronto Chicago) the Cavaliers could very well be taking over second place very soon. Meanwhile Houston remains solidly in third though the gap is closing on Memphis who lost one/won one in their back to back series. Memphis got blown out badly by the Clippers Friday (seriously how does this happen?) and then they eked out a win Saturday over Minnesota.
Moving ahead to the 3:30 (Eastern Time) game we break down this compelling game:
- These two teams were very active early in the season tweaking roster positions in an effort to stay atop their respective Divisions:
- Cleveland’s big moves following the summer acquisition of Kevin Love was the additional trades to bring Iman Shumpert and J.R. Smith to add bench depth, defense and 3-point shooting followed by bringing over center Timofey Mozgov once center Anderson Varejao was lost for the season.
- For Houston’s part they brought in Trevor Ariza in the summer to replace exiting Chandler Parson’s and added veteran Jason Terry. GM Daryl Morey followed that up with a trade to bring in Corey Brewer and days later picked up Josh Smith who was released by the Pistons. His trade deadline moves may prove fascinating over the long term as K.J. McDaniels may turn into a real producer for which Morey gave up little in return. He also added savvy European veteran Pablo Prigioni to help with the ball handling duties.
- James Harden continues to do whatever is necessary proving the adage of a real star is one who doesn’t just “get there’s” but learns how to make those around him better. This was best displayed in the game versus Brooklyn when Houston trailed for good portions and Harden was playing through a bum ankle. In the end he had 12 assists and scored the critical points that pushed the Rockets ahead with less than a minute remaining.
- Today will certainly be a contest of two athletes who feel they are both worthy of MVP consideration. Earlier this week James put on a clinic (40 points) versus fellow candidate Steph Curry albeit with some zebra assistance in a game they won. Today the Cav’s face another good defensive squad in the Rockets.
- James sat the last game versus the suddenly streaking upward Pacers in a contest the Cav’s lost.
- Kyrie Irving also sat the last game nursing an apparent shoulder injury
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