Toyota Center, Houston, TX
- Alec Burks
- Collin Sexton
- Cedi Osman
- Tristan Thompson
- Channing Frye
- James Harden
- Clint Capela
- Austin Rivers
- P.J. Tucker
- Danuel House Jr.
Houston- The Houston Rockets and Cleveland Cavaliers could are headed in opposite directions. Just look at the last 15 games, Houston is 12-3 while Cleveland is 2-13 and in the middle of an 11 game losing streak. The Rockets and Cavaliers played once this season already, when Cleveland won 117-108, behind a career-high 29 points from rookie Collin Sexton.
Houston and Cleveland do have one thing in common though, the injury bug has been a problem for both teams. Everyone knows of the issues the Cavaliers are having this season, but Houston has been without Chris Paul and Eric Gordon for some time now. Paul last played December,20 and is expected to be out at least until the end of January, while Gordon has missed the last five games.
Cavaliers coach Larry Drew knows Harden is going to a handful, ” I think you have to really just try to make it as tough you can for him. But just knowing that as much a he is going to handle the basketball, he’s always a threat to score. And hope you can make it as tough as you can for him.”
When Houston came to Cleveland, last seasons MVP James Harden (40 points, 13 rebounds) put on a show. Or what everyone thought was a show, until this recent run Harden has gone on. Harden has scored 40 points in (8 of the last 15) games, including a run of five straight to end 2018. The Rockets last game out was a loss at the hands of the Milwaukee Bucks, snapping their 10 game home winning streak. Following the game Harden talked about the stretch of four straight games against teams with losing records (Cleveland, Orlando, Memphis and Brooklyn.)
“These games are probably more important than the ones we’ve been playing. Just because these teams are feisty, they’re scrappy and they’re going to come in here and try to get a big road win. So we’ve got to lock back in.”
In Cleveland’s last game they managed to jump out to a 13 point lead after the 1st quarter, but managed to lose 140-124 in New Orleans. The Cavaliers surrendered 81 points in the second half as they dropped their 11 straight. The road trip doesn’t get much easier after leaving Houston either, as three more playoff teams await them. The lone non-playoff team is the Utah Jazz, a team that defeated the Cavs by 26 just last week.
There are obviously numerous problems with this team, but defense is the most concerning. At the rate Cleveland is defending this season, they could finish one of the worst defenses in NBA history, at least according to the numbers. The Cavs defense ranks dead last in the NBA in efficiency, allowing 116.9 points per 100 possessions. Coach Drew understands where this team is at right now.
“We’ve got to buckle down and try to put four solid quarters together, which we haven’t been able to do.”