Game Preview: Houston Rockets vs Cleveland Cavaliers

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After enjoying their first home game and home win of the season the Rockets return to the road for their next five games. The first stop on this road trip is Cleveland to take on the reigning champion, Cavaliers. This game will be the biggest test this Rockets team will face, as the Cavaliers are a much better team than the Mavericks or Lakers.

The Cavaliers are looking to win their fourth straight and move to 4-0 on the season in this game. This Cleveland team, coming off their first championship in the teams existence, has three players currently averaging 20 points per game in Kevin Love (who is also averaging near double digit rebounds), Kyrie Irving and LeBron James (two rebounds per game away from averaging a triple double). In addition to their scoring prowess the Cavaliers are the fourth best defense so far this season.

Starting Lineups

The Rockets starters all had good games, outside of Capela (offensively) and Harden (by his standards). The starting lineup will probably stay the same with Harden at point guard, Gordon at shooting guard, Ariza at small forward, Anderson at power forward, and Capela at center.

The Cavaliers have the same starting lineup that they had in last seasons finals, so needless to say, they are good. After getting a deal done in the 11th hour with JR Smith they were able to retain continuity. Outside of unexpected injuries or illness the Cavaliers starting lineup will likely be Kyrie Irving at point guard, JR Smith at shooting guard, LeBron James at small forward, Kevin Love at power forward, and Tristan Thompson at center.

Three Things to Watch

  • Winning in unexpected ways - The Rockets Offense has not looked as good as we had hoped the past two games, often stagnating as shooters struggle to shoot. As a surprise to many the Rockets were able to rely on their defense in the last two games forcing a few timely 24 second violations. It remains to be seen if this defense is sustainable, however.

  • Taking on the champs -  It will be interesting to see how the Rockets play against one of the best teams in the NBA. It is still early, but how well they play Cleveland on the road could tell a lot for this newly constructed Rockets team.

  • "Triple Dekker!" - While sitting out for most of last season with a back injury, second year forward Sam Dekker spent most of his time working on his jumper, and on Sunday it showed. Sam Dekker made all three of his three point attempts without so much as touching the rim, that combined with his versatile defense led to a great outing for the former first round pick. It will be worth watching to see if this performance leads to D'Antoni giving Dekker more time, as he has with KJ McDaniels.

Prediction and Tip-Off

The Rockets are in for a tough game at the Quicken Loans Arena and I predict it will end with them falling to 2-2. I don't think the first game of the road trip will be all negative though. I predict the Rockets to stay in the game and not allow the Cavaliers to let up.

Tip-off is has been moved up to 5:00 P.M. Central Time, due to the World Series game being played next door, on Tuesday, November 1st and will be televised on ROOT Sports along with NBA TV, with the radio broadcast on Sports Talk 790-AM.


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