Cavaliers at Rockets Preview

Cavaliers (37-23) @ Rockets (40-18)

Coming off a tough loss against the hot Indiana Pacers, the Cavaliers continue their small road trip with a stop in Houston. The Rockets have been led by their star shooting guard James Harden and contributions from an efficient bench. Harden is leading the league in scoring with a 27.0 PPG average. Sunday will mark the second straight game for the Cavaliers without star point guard Kyrie Irving. The Cavaliers’ first game without Irving against the Indiana Pacers did not end well. Back up point guard Matthew Dellavedova was inserted into the starting lineup, but did not perform well. Obviously, he’s not nearly the force that Irving is.

Entering Sunday’s game, rumors are swirling around the possibility of ex-Cavalier point guard Baron Davis making a return to Cleveland. Davis was traded from the Clippers to the Cavaliers at the deadline of the 2011 season, and finished out the season with the Cavaliers. Davis is thought to be in the process of a return to the NBA, and most notable suitors for his return would be the Los Angeles Clippers and the Cleveland Cavaliers. Davis would be a suitable replacement for Delly.

Sunday’s contest will feature two of the biggest stars in the NBA right now. Harden and LeBron will go head to head for the first time this season. The first time around, the Rockets came into Cleveland and put on a show with their newly acquired shooting forward Corey Brewer. The Cavaliers were without LeBron or Iman Shumpert. The Cavaliers kept it close and even had the lead at the end of the third quarter, but were absolutely run out of the gym in the fourth quarter, outscored 32-19, which led to a loss.

Here are some things you need to know before watching:

Cleveland Cavaliers at Houston Rockets – Toyota Center

Game start 3:30 P.M. EST.  National TV- ABC.

Projected Starting Lineups

Cavaliers:

PG: Matthew Dellavedova: 4.5 PPG, 2.8 APG, 1.9 RPG, 35.5 % FG

SG: J.R. Smith: 11.8 PPG, 3.0 APG, 2.7 RPG, 41.0 % FG

SF: LeBron James: 26.0 PPG, 7.3 APG, 5.8 RPG, 49.1 % FG

PF: Kevin Love: 16.9 PPG, 2.3 APG, 10.3 RPG, 43.0 % FG

C: Timofey Mozgov: 9.3 PPG, 0.6 APG, 7.9 RPG, 53.9 % FG

Rockets:

PG: Patrick Beverley: 10.3 PPG, 3.3 APG, 4.4 RPG, 37.6 % FG

SG: James Harden: 27.0 PPG, 7.0 APG, 5.8 RPG, 44.7 % FG

SF: Trevor Ariza: 12.8 PPG, 2.4 APG, 5.4 RPG, 38.4 % FG

PF: Terrence Jones: 11.2 PPG, 1.1 APG, 6.7 RPG, 50.7 % FG

C: Donatas Motiejunas: 11.6 PPG, 1.6 APG, 6.1 RPG, 51.5 % FG

Matchup to watch for:

Stopping James Harden on offense isn’t easy, and few can, as seen by his league-leading 27.0 PPG. The only way seems to be getting Harden into foul trouble. The Cavaliers made a trade in early January to stop the rampage from opponents. Iman Shumpert, known as a lockdown perimeter defender, will have his hands full with Harden. Shumpert and Harden are both masters of their craft: Harden with offense and Shumpert with defense. Although Harden will more than likely “get his,” Shumpert will surely irritate Harden throughout the game. Even when Harden thinks he’s got Shumpert all figured out, the Cavaliers will insert J.R. Smith into the mix, giving fits to Harden on the defensive end. Formerly a defensive liability, Smith has actually decided to play defense as a member of the Cavaliers. Having Iman Shumpert and J.R. Smith on the Cavaliers gives the Wine and Gold many options for both ends of the floor, making it hard for opponents such as Harden to figure them out.

Injury Report

Cavaliers:

  • Anderson Varajao: Season
  • Brendan Haywood: Day to Day
  • Shawn Marion: Out Min. 2 Weeks
  • Kyrie Irving: Out Sunday (re-evaluated Tuesday)

Rockets:

  • Dwight Howard: Out Indefinitely
  • Kostas Papanikolaou: Day to Day

Game Notes:

  • Cavaliers 7-3 in last 10.
  • Houston 7-3 in last 10.
  • Cavaliers on one game losing streak.
  • Rockets on four game winning streak.
  • Rockets James Harden leads the league in PPG.
  • Irving questionable for Tuesday’s game against Boston.
  • Howard making “slow but steady progress with knee rehab.”

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