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Game Day: Houston Rockets in search of sixth straight face Cavaliers

By Tamberlyn Richardson
Jan 12, 2016; Dallas, TX, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) runs back up court after making a three point shot against the Dallas Mavericks during the first half at the American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 12, 2016; Dallas, TX, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) runs back up court after making a three point shot against the Dallas Mavericks during the first half at the American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
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Game Day: Houston Rockets seek sixth consecutive win, play Cleveland Cavaliers

The Details

Venue: Toyota Center, Houston TX,

Game Time: 9:30 PM EST – 8:30 PM CT

TV: National ESPN, Local: ROOT and FSOhio

Radio: 790 AM and WTAM 1100 / 100.7 WM

Recent History:

The Houston Rockets have owned the Cleveland Cavaliers over their past few games albeit often in close battles. Of their last 5 games the Rockets are 4-1.

  • Mar 1 CAV 102 – 105
  • Jan 8, 2015: HOU 105-93 CLE
  • Mar 22, 2014: HOU 118-111 CLE
  • Feb 2, 2014: CLE 92-106 HOU

Walking Wounded:

Cavaliers:

  • Mo Williams – personal, game time decision

Rockets:

Projected Starters:

Cavaliers: Kyrie Irving, J.R Smith, Lebron JamesKevin Love, Tristan Thompson,

Rockets: Patrick Beverley, James HardenTrevor Ariza, Dwight Howard, Clint Capela

Key Reserves:

Cavaliers: Timofey Mozgov,  Iman Shumpert, Anderson Varejao

Rockets: Corey BrewerMarcus Thornton, Jason TerryTy Lawson , K.J. McDaniels, Montrezl Harrell

Key Match-up:

When you have  two of the top 5 ranked players in the Association it’s pretty obvious who the key match-up is. Factor in last season’s final contest between the two teams when a misplaced foot played a contributing factor to the game and this one has the potential to be a big game.

Notably James prowess and gifts go beyond his scoring ability to his defense and facilitating on court. While James and Harden will provide the majority of the fodder for today’s contest look for what Kevin Love  and Kyrie Irving bring as they continue to gel as a big three.

The move by head coach David Blatt to move Mozgov to the bench and start Tristan Thompson (yes, another Canadian) is paying dividends.

Cavs vs Rockets Stas comparison
Cavs vs Rockets Stas comparison

Keys To Winning:

  • Just Win: Through the 5-game winning streak Houston have been finding a way to win and have made taking care of the ball part of the emphasis. This aspect will be imperative versus the Cavaliers who will make the Rocket’s pay for turnovers via fast break transition points.
  • Pace: Cleveland rank 28th on pace so there is an opportunity to attack the Cavs via a quicker tempo, however I expect the Cavs pace to increase now that Irving is back in the line-up.
  • Attack Early: The Rockets get a bit of a break with the Cavs having played a whopper of a game last night in San Antonio, so they arrive tired. The key to benefiting on that fact will be attacking (especially Irving who is only just back from injury) Sunday as he continues to nurse his shoulder injury that no one can figure out how he obtained. (hey, I told you the kid wouldn’t  make it through the season uninjured!)
  • Win the Paint and Rebounding Battle: The Rockets need to win these two areas on the court, as winning the rebounding battle can lead to helping them push the ball in transition.

More from Space City Scoop

The Pick:

The odds makers show their hands by making the Cavaliers 1.5 favorites which is significant given Cleveland is the road team which automatically puts them at a deficit of 2 to 3 points, which means they favor them by closer to 3 or 4 points. Even more telling is the fact Houston are rested while Cleveland played a playoff type game against the Spurs last night. The over-under is 205.5 with action favoring the Cavaliers.

All season the Rockets have surprised by winning games they shouldn’t like the Christmas Day win over the Spurs. They also enter tonight on a 5-game win streak. That said, expect the zebras to be very generous in their whistles for the Cavaliers who are fairly considered the best team in the East and one of the top 3 or 4 teams in the Association.

This one is so difficult to determine the outcome it could just as easily be a nail biter as it could a blow-out. Because I never bet against a win streak I’ll call this one for the home side by 3 points.

For more exciting news and stories on the Cleveland Cavaliers visit our affiliate Fansided site: King James Gospel

Next: Cavaliers Team Preview - Long Live The King

Make sure you catch up on our entire Team Preview Series, our Houston Rockets Player Profile Series as well as our SCS Round Table Sessions to help you get through the early season. Start your morning with SCS Rocket Science Daily and visit us throughout the day to keep abreast of all your Houston Rockets news and updates.

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