Tonight, the Cleveland Cavaliers face off against the Houston Rockets on their second night of a back-to-back. The Cavs are hoping to extend their winning streak to four against a Rockets team that has been struggling tremendously, entering tonight on an 11-game losing streak. Unfortunately for them, and fortunately for the Cavs, they found themselves being absolutely obliterated by the Memphis Grizzlies, 133-84, and tonight won’t be much easier.
The Cavaliers are playing cohesive basketball. PG Collin Sexton and C Jarrett Allen continue to look like cornerstone pieces and both SG Darius Garland and SG Isaac Okoro are coming off of career games. To put it bluntly, the Rockets are downright terrible and the lack of size means that any halfway decent big can take advantage of that and there’s no doubt that Allen and (Dean) Wade can do that. The team that struggled to keep opponents under 120 points is gone and that fits perfectly with the Rockets who on most nights can struggle to score.
The Cavaliers bench should be licking their chops for this game as well. PF Taurean Prince is back, SG Cedi Osman and SF Dylan Windler are settling into their preferred roles and last night the Grizzles bench scored a whopping 85 points: the entire Rockets team scored 84. If that doesn’t excite the Cavs bench…nothing will.
While the Rockets are playing abysmal basketball, the Cavs have to make sure they come out with energy. They cannot give a team who’s clearly in disarray a reason to believe. It’s imperative that Sexton and Allen come out and establish their dominance early on and the bench must come in with the mindset that they can put the game away. Even with the 11 game skid, the Rockets have PG John Wall and SG Victor Oladipo, albeit a lesser version of his former self.
February 24th against these same Rockets, Sexton put up 23 points, Allen had a phenomenal game with 26 points on 10-11 shooting while grabbing 18 rebounds and (Darius) Garland contributed 11 points and 10 assists. As a team that’s striving for continuous improvement, there’s room to do even better than that. For the Cavaliers, this Houston game couldn’t come at a better time as the teams couldn’t be farther apart in terms of team trajectory.
Having gone through a double-digit losing streak of their own, the Cavs know firsthand the mindset the Rockets will come into tonight’s game with and that should help them. Even more than the Rockets horrid play and even more than this being the tail-end of a back-to-back. Despite the record, the Cavaliers have shown growth throughout the season and there’s no reason to believe that growth won’t continue with them handling the Rockets the way a team in their position should. Right now, everything is falling in their favor and they must capitalize.