Game Preview: Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Houston Rockets
The Cleveland Cavaliers face off against the Houston Rockets tonight.
The Cleveland Cavaliers will play the Houston Rockets tonight in a game that precedes Game 6 of the World Series.
The start time of the Cavs-Rockets contest was moved up in order to avoid a schedule conflict with the World Series. With the World Series featuring the Chicago Cubs, who are one of the most relevant teams in baseball history, and the Cleveland Indians (who can bring Cleveland its second pro sports championship in a five-month span after a 52-year title drought), it’s a nice gesture on the part of the NBA to move the start time from 7:30 PM (EST) to 6:00 PM (EST).
After tonight’s game ends, the Cleveland Cavaliers are expected to stop by next door and attend Game 6 according to cleveland.com’s Joe Vardon. Every time the Indians and the Cavs have played on the same night, the Indians have one. So what the Cavs might need to expect when they walk into Progressive Field is for Cleveland to don the title of “the city of champions” by the end of night.
Meanwhile, the Chicago Cubs are hoping the Cleveland Indians blow a 3-1 series lead in a
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championship series. Cleveland fans only know the other side of that situation and will hope that tonight marks the last night of the baseball season.
Tonight’s game may be one of the best games the NBA sees this whole season. Despite missing starting point guard and defensive specialist Patrick Beverley, James Harden has kept the team rolling as the nominal point guard en route to a 2-1 record and back-to-back victories against their in-state division rivals, the Dallas Mavericks.
The Mavericks, since we’re talking about blowing 3-1 series leads, have two participants from the 2016 NBA Finals. Andrew Bogut and Harrison Barnes were starters on the team that the Cleveland Cavaliers beat in historic fashion to bring the franchise its first NBA Finals victory. The Mavericks also employ the little brother of Golden State Warriors superstar Stephen Curry, Seth Curry.
But I digress.
Under the tutelage of head coach Mike D’Antoni, Harden is in the midst of a transformation that he hopes will lead to him being the next Steve Nash. Nash, as many will remember, is a 2-time NBA MVP who ranks third all-time in assists with 10,335.
Harden, who’s averaging 10.7 assists per game this season while still dropping 29.7 points per game, has once again thrown his hat into the early MVP conversation. He joins Kawhi Leonard, Anthony Davis, Russell Westbrook, Damian Lillard, Kyrie Irving and LeBron James on that list.
While James averages 10.0 assists per game himself and 21.0 points per game by comparison, he
can tie Hakeem Olujawon at tenth all-time in points with a 50-point performance. If that’s James’ game plan tonight, Rockets defensive-stopper Trevor Ariza won’t back down. According to ESPN staff writer Calvin Watkins, this is what Ariza (who has an interesting history with James) had to say about defending the Cavs megastar: “The only thing you think about when LeBron is coming at you is if you want to win or not. If you want to win your going to step in front of him and take a charge. That’s how I play.”
However, with his third-lowest scoring average coming against the Houston Rockets (24.7 points per game) in addition to Irving’s growing offensive roles, the King might not pass Olujawon in the history books until the end of the week. The Cavs have two more games this week. Thursday against the Boston Celtics and Saturday against the Philadelphia 76ers.
Outside of the matchup between two potential MVP candidates, the Houston Rockets have a roster that can play stylistically similar to the Cavs. Harden, like James, is the primary playmaker. Eric Gordon, like J.R. Smith, is a certified sniper from deep. Ryan Anderson, like Kevin Love, is a premier shooter at the power forward position. Clint Capela, like Tristan Thompson, is a young and aggressive rebounder at center.
However, the Rockets defense is nothing like the Cavs. So far, the Rockets have given up 103.3 point per game this season. The Cavs are “giving up” 92.7 points per game. Ultimately that, and the explosive scoring of Irving, is what should ultimately doom the Houston Rockets.
Hopefully, the Cleveland Cavaliers get out with a win and proceed to watch the Cleveland Indians get theirs. That would be ideal for the city of Cleveland.
What do you expect between the Houston Rockets and Cleveland Cavaliers in tonight’s game at “The Q”? Let us know in the comments section or Twitter @KJG_NBA.