The Cavaliers get another tough test tonight in what has been a really rough week for the team. Monday they got abused by the Indiana Pacers, Wednesday brought a stomach-punch loss to the Heat in what was one of the oddest games of the NBA season and tonight they get to travel to Houston to battle James Harden, Jeremy Lin and the Houston Rockets. The Rockets have one of the highest scoring offenses in the league, and should pose plenty of problems for a fairly poor Cavaliers defense.
Opponent’s Blog: Space City Scoop
Venue: Toyota Center
Tipoff: Friday, March 22 at 8 p.m., ET
Betting Line: HOU by -13
Where you can watch: Fox Sports Ohio
Where you can listen: WTAM (AM 1100)
The Cavaliers look to be without Dion Waiters again and will likely roll with the shooting guard battery of Wayne Ellington and C.J. Miles once again against Houston. Ellington had 20 points in his third start of the season Wednesday against Miami. The Cavs still may miss Dion Waiters’ 14.7 points per game, but Ellington and Miles haven’t done too poorly to pick up the slack in his absence.
The Cavs’ first matchup with the Rockets was back on January 5th – a 112-104 loss at the Quicken Loans Center. James Harden had 29 points, while Jeremy Lin chipped in 20 for Houston. Kyrie Irving had 30 points for Cleveland, with Alonzo Gee chipping in 18 points and six rebounds. A lot has changed for both teams since then, as the Rockets traded out Patrick Patterson (15/6 in the first meeting) for Thomas Robinson and Francisco Garcia, while the Cavs swung the trade for Ellington and Marreese Speights, but have faced injuries to Irving and Waiters. One constant that hasn’t changed, though, is Houston’s ability to make threes, as the Rockets hit 12 against the Cavs in the last meeting and have taken and made the most threes in the league this season.
This matchup will likely come down to how the Cavs handle Houston’s height. James Harden is going to get his, that has to be conceded, but the Cavs will have to figure out a way to shut down 6-9 Chandler Parsons at the small forward position. Alonzo Gee will likely be charged with this duty for most of the game, but he’s severely undersized and the Cavs may want to utilize his defensive skills on Harden, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see Byron Scott throw a lot of bigger frontcourts at Houston, like Walton/Thompson/Zeller or Walton/Speights/Thompson.
Another interesting matchup is going to be how Tyler Zeller and Tristan Thompson deal with Omer Asik and Thomas Robinson on the offensive end. The Rockets are great at low-post D with these two, and while both played pretty well against Miami, this is going to be a much tougher matchup though. The Cavs will need big efforts from them, as well as a limitation of Houston bombing threes, in order to have a chance at winning tonight. Luckily the Rockets really struggle with perimeter defense themselves, so guys like Miles and Ellington should have big nights. Expect a high-scoring affair.