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MVP Battle: Houston Rockets vs. Cleveland Cavaliers Preview

Nov 1, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) is defended by Houston Rockets forward Trevor Ariza (1) in the first half at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 1, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) is defended by Houston Rockets forward Trevor Ariza (1) in the first half at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
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James Harden and the Houston Rockets will take on their second MVP candidate in less than a week tonight against the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The month of March has been a beating so far for the Houston Rockets. They lost a heartbreaker to the Spurs in San Antonio and then came home to lose to the gritty Jazz. Now, they’ll take on the defending champions tonight in another MVP candidate showdown.

LeBron James has been sort of quiet this year in the MVP race, but that’s not all his fault. Sure, he’s missed games for rest here and there, but the man is averaging 26 points, 8.4 rebounds, and 8.9 assists per game! Those numbers aren’t quite as gaudy as James Harden‘s or Russell Westbrook‘s, but they’re definitely good. Like, really good.

All that goes to say that the Rockets will have a tough time containing the King tonight. During the first matchup between the two teams back in November, Trevor Ariza admirably held LeBron to just 19 points. However, he didn’t stop him from shooting 50% from the field or from grabbing 13 boards to go along with his 8 assists that night.

While LeBron played well during that November game, it was Kyrie Irving who really killed Houston. The point guard put up 32 points on 10/19 shooting. But, that was before Patrick Beverley returned to the lineup to hound his opponents. Harden and Eric Gordon took turns trying to hold Uncle Drew down with no luck.

Patrick is a different kind of player, though, compared to offensive juggernauts like the Beard and EG. Bev relishes opportunities to prove himself against the league’s elite, and will most certainly go all out tonight. Look for him to pressure Irving all night, all the way up the floor.

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The Houston Rockets have a better record than the Cavs, and will be eager to prove that they’re the better team. Both squads play similar styles of basketball, launching up the first and second most threes per night in the league.

Houston, though, shoots a worse percentage from downtown than Cleveland. LeBron and company sit at second in the league in three point accuracy while the Rox are 15th.

Two things work to Houston’s advantage for tonight’s battle. The first is that Kevin Love is still out with an injury. He’s a great three point shooter, and the Cavs will miss him against a team like the Rockets.

The second is that, for all the threes they make, the Cavs allow a lot of threes as well. They’re in the bottom 4 teams in the league in opponents’ three point makes, actually. The Rockets will seek every opportunity to make them pay for their spotty defense around the arc.

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Tip-off is at 8pm CST tonight and will be nationally televised on ESPN. Check back here for a recap after the game and follow @SpaceCity_Scoop on Twitter for live updates!

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