GameDay Preview: Cavs vs. Rockets
The Cleveland Cavaliers (8-26) return to The Q tonight to take on the Houston Rockets (19-14) at 7:30 p.m. ET.
Both teams come into tonight's contest having won the night before as the Wine and Gold edged the Charlotte Bobcats and the Rockets took down the Milwaukee Bucks.
With the game tied at 104-apiece last night, Kyrie Irving splashed home step-back jumper with one second to play -- part of his 16-point fourth quarter -- as the Cavaliers won a 106-104 thriller in Charlotte. Irving finished with a game-high 33 points, and on the season, the sophomore signal caller is averaging 23.1 points and 5.6 assists.
Houston is led by the dynamic backcourt tandem of Jeremy Lin and James Harden. Harden is the league's fifth leading scorer at 26.3 points per game while Lin leads the team in assists with 6.4 helpers to go along with 11.9 points a contest.
Probable Starters/Injury Report* presented by Cleveland Clinic
Cavaliers: PG - Kyrie Irving, SG - C.J. Miles, SF - Alonzo Gee
PF - Tristan Thompson, C - Tyler Zeller
Rockets: PG - Jeremy Lin, SG - James Harden, SF - Chandler Parsons
PF - Marcus Morris, C - Omer Asik
*Subject to change
Cleveland trails the all-time series to Houston 75-24 with both teams taking 29 games in contests played in the Cavaliers home arena.
The last time the two teams faced each other, the Cavs scored a season-high 118 points, including a 37-23 edge in the fourth quarter, to pick up an 11-point victory (118-107) over the Rockets on March 11, 2012 at The Q. Kyrie Irving scored 21 points, including 16 points and 9-9 shooting from the foul line in the game’s final 4:14, to go along with a team-high six rebounds and five assists in 29 minutes. Alonzo Gee added 11 points, four rebounds and three steals in 33 minutes.
Key to the Game/Key Matchup
Key to the Game
Defending the Pick-and-Roll
Defending the pick-and-roll is vital in any NBA game, but Houston's Jeremy Lin and James Harden are two of the best when it comes to running that particular offensive set.
Not only does their decision making off the pick-and-roll produce scoring opportunities for themselves, but it also creates open looks for their teammates. This lethal combination has allowed Houston to become the league's top scoring team at 106.6 points per game.
The Wine and Gold will have to really dig in tonight on the defensive end and it all starts with defending the pick-and-roll.
Tyler Zeller vs. Omer Asik
There are some great matchups in tonight's game that could dictate the outcome of the game. For instance, the point guard matchup between Kyrie Irving and Jeremy Lin, or the perimeter battle between Alonzo Gee and James Harden.
Having said that, perhaps the most important matchup tonight will be between rookie center, Tyler Zeller, and Houston's man-in-the-middle, Omer Asik.
With both teams running motion offenses predicated on the decision making of their perimeter players, the battle in the trenches between the two big men may become the X-factor.
Zeller's first order of business should be to get a body on the active Asik whom comes into tonight's game as the league's fourth leading rebounding at 11.6 rebounds per game.
On the season, Zeller is averaging 8.0 points and 5.4 rebounds and has started the last eight games for the Wine and Gold in Anderson Varejao's absence.
Where to Catch the Action