GameDay Preview: Cavs at Rockets

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Tristan Thompson
Scott Halleran/NBAE/GettyImages

Game Summary

The Wine and Gold continue their three-game road trip tonight in Houston as they take on the Rockets at the Toyota Center. Tipoff is at 8:00 p.m. ET.

Cleveland (16-30) will look to bounce back after falling to the New York Knicks 117-86 on Thursday night at Madison Square Garden. Kyrie Irving tallied 24 points and six rebounds while Dion Waiters bucketed 21 points off the bench. Luol Deng recorded his second double-double (13 points, 11 rebounds) since joining the Cavaliers.

Houston (31-17) has won seven of their last ten games entering tonight's contest. The Rockets are led by the All-Star combo of James Harden and Dwight Howard. On the season, Harden is averaging a team-high 23.7 points while Howard has posted averages of 18.1 points and 12.6 rebounds.

Probable Starters/Injury Report* presented by Cleveland Clinic

Cleveland ClinicCavaliers: PG - Kyrie Irving, SG - C.J. Miles, SF - Luol Deng
PF - Tristan Thompson, C - Tyler Zeller

Rockets: PG - Patrick Beverley, SG - Jeremy Lin, SF - Chandler Parsons
PF - Terrance Jones, C - Dwight Howard

Status Update: (Cavs) - Anderson Varejao, (Left Knee Contusion and Hyperextension, Questionable), Carrick Felix, (Left patellar Stress Fracture, Out)

(Rockets) - Omer Asik, (Right Thigh/Knee, Out), Francisco Garcia, (Sore Left Knee, Day-to-Day), Craig Smith, (Sore Right Knee, Day-to-Day), James Harden, (Bruised Left Thumb, Game-Time Decision)

*Subject to change

Head-to-Head Matchup

Tonight will mark the first matchup between the two teams this season. Houston will travel to Cleveland to take on the Cavs at The Q on Saturday, March 22nd.

All-time, the Wine and Gold are 42-77 against Houston (29-30 Home, 12-47 Road).

Key to the Game/Key Matchup

Defensive Intensity

Houston ranks fifth in the NBA with a field goal percentage of 47 percent. The Rockets are 13-3 in games when they shoot .500 or better from the field this season.

It is vital that the Cavaliers bring intensity at the defensive end to force Houston into tough shots.

Key Matchup

Backcourt Battle

Although James Harden is a game-time decision, the Wine and Gold should prepare for the three-time All-Star. Harden has 30-plus points in 10 games on the season and can take over a game on his own.

If Harden is unable to go, the Rockets will start a small, quick backcourt with Pat Beverley and Jeremey Lin. The tandem will surely look to use their quickness to penetrate into the paint and create open looks for their teammates. The Rockets own a record of 17-7 this season when dishing out 20-plus assists.

Looking to slow down the Rockets guards will be the Cavs backcourt trio of Dion Waiters, C.J. Miles and Kyrie Irving.

Waiters has scored at least 20 points in consecutive games after pouring in 21 points at New York on Thursday and 21 points versus New Orleans on Tuesday. He is shooting .607 (17-28) from the field over the last two games, including .625 (5-8) from the three-point line in 30.5 minutes per game off the bench. This season, Waiters is averaging an Eastern Conference-best 14.8 points as a reserve.

In 15 January games, Miles shot .465 (33-71) from the three-point line, which is the 8th-best percentage from long distance in the East during the month. His 33 triples made were the 6th-highest among all East players in January. Miles also averaged 12.6 points and 1.1 steals in 23.2 minutes per game during the month.

Coming into tonight’s contest, Irving has topped 20 points in seven of the last eight games (since Jan. 15), averaging 22.1 points, 3.5 rebounds, 6.4 assists, 1.1 steals and only 1.6 turnovers in 36.1 minutes. He is also shooting .917 (33-36) from the foul line over that stretch. Irving has played against Houston twice in his career with averages of 25.5 points, 5.0 rebounds, 5.5 assists and 2.0 steals in 35.0 minutes.

Where to Catch the Action

TV: FOX Sports Ohio, Radio: WTAM 1100, NBA League Pass Audio, XM 221, Sirius 216

For live in-game updates, follow @cavs, @CavsJoeG, @CavsFredMcLeod, @MrCavalier34, @CavsJMike and @chones22 on Twitter.

Be sure to check cavs.com for Joe Gabriele's live in-game blog providing instant analysis and game notes. Plus, get into the discussion as die-hard Cavs fans talk about the game on CavFanatic's GameDay Thread.

Programming Note

Tonight, FOX Sports Ohio is airing the Cavs – Rockets game (8:00 p.m.) and the Blue Jackets – Panthers game (7:00 p.m.). Click here for programming details.

On Deck

After tonight's game, the Cavs conclude their three-game road trip on Monday against the Dallas Mavericks at 8:30 p.m. ET.