Game Day: Houston Rockets seek sixth consecutive win, play Cleveland Cavaliers
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
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
- Mo Williams – personal, game time decision
- Donatas Motiejunas – back, out until January 19th at a minimum
- Sam Dekker had bad surgery is out 3 months or until at least February 15th
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.
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.
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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.
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