GameDay Preview: Cavs at Rockets

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Toyota Center
Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images

Game Summary

After a pair of home games, the Cleveland Cavaliers (22-46) are back in Texas to take on the Houston Rockets (37-31) at the Toyota Center tonight. Tipoff is at 8:00 p.m. ET.

All five Cavs starters scored in double figures against the Heat on Wednesday, led by Wayne Ellington, who finished with 20 points, a career-high tying seven rebounds and a season-high tying four assists in a career-high 41 minutes.

Houston looks for a 10th win in their last 12 home games as they continue their seven-game homestand.

James Harden notched 29 points and hit 17 of 18 from the foul line, while Jeremy Lin added 24 on 9-of-13 shooting in the Rockets win over the Utah Jazz on Wednesday.

Probable Starters/Injury Report* presented by Cleveland Clinic

Cleveland ClinicCavaliers: PG - Shaun Livingston, SG - Wayne Ellington, SF - Alonzo Gee
PF - Tristan Thompson, C - Tyler Zeller

Rockets: PG - Jeremy Lin, SG - James Harden, SF - Chandler Parsons
PF - Donatas Motiejunas, C - Omer Asik

Injuries: (Cavs) - Kyrie Irving, (Left AC (acromioclavicular) Sprain, Out), Anderson Varejao, (Vastus Medialis Split/Surgery, Out), Dion Waiters, (Left Knee Soreness, Out)
(Rockets) - Tim Ohlbrecht, (Right Ankle Sprain, Out)

*Subject to change

Head-to-Head Matchup

Cleveland trails the all-time series to Houston 24-76, including a 29-30 record at games played in Cleveland and a 12-46 record in Houston.

In their previous meeting on Jan. 5 at Quicken Loans Arena, the Cavs shot 25-28 (.893) from the foul line and had a 48-38 edge in points in the paint.

Key to the Game/Key Matchups

Winning the Turnover Battle

Houston’s up-tempo style of play is predicated on forcing turnovers leading to fastbreak opportunities, so the Cavaliers must take care of the basketball in order to limit easy baskets from the Rockets.

Conversely, the Wine and Gold should look to apply defensive pressure on Houston’s offense.

Cleveland forced Houston into 17 turnovers and scored 21 points off of their miscues in the Jan. 5th meeting. Defensively, Cleveland ranks 8th in the NBA in opponent turnovers per game at 15.5 and 8th in points off turnovers (17.5) this season.

Furthermore, the Cavs are averaging 9.5 steals over the last four games, and in the first matchup with Houston, the Wine and Gold swiped 11 steals.

Key Matchup

Cavs Frontcourt vs. Rockets Frontcourt

The Cavaliers young starting frontcourt tandem of Tristan Thompson and Tyler Zeller have been playing consistent basketball as of late.

Zeller’s six double-doubles this season ranks 2nd among all Eastern Conference rookies (4th overall). He has registered double-doubles in two of his last four games, including a 12-point, 11-rebound performance this past Wednesday.

Thompson has a team-leading 25 double-doubles on the season. In the Jan. 5th matchup with Houston, Thompson recorded 14 points and a career-high 16 rebounds (eight offensive) in 37 minutes. He has 20 double-doubles over his last 42 games, including five in the last eight.

As a team, the Cavs grabbed 17 offensive rebounds, which led to 20 second chance points in the two teams’ last matchup.

Cleveland currently leads the Eastern Conference in second chance points per game at 15.4 (2nd in the NBA). Cleveland also ranks 5th in the East with 12.4 offensive rebounds per game (tied-7th in the league).

Omer Asik anchors the Rockets frontcourt, and in his first full season as a starter, the second-year pro out of Turkey is averaging career-highs in both points (10.2) and rebounds (11.7).

Where to Catch the Action

TV: FSOhio HD, NBA League Pass
Radio: WTAM 1100, XM 205, Sirius 113, NBA League Pass Audio

Programming Notes:

Cavaliers Live Pregame Show begins at 7:30 p.m. | Tipoff at 8:00 p.m.

• Cleveland, Toledo, Youngstown/Erie, and Wheeling/Steubenville areas:
- Main FOX Sports Ohio cable channel
- Direct TV: FSOhio
- Dish: FSOhio
- AT&T: FSOhio

• Columbus, Lima, Cincinnati, and Dayton, areas:
- The game is being made available to providers to air on the alternate FOX Sports Ohio cable channels. Alternate channel information can be found here: http://www.foxsportsohio.com/pages/channelfinder/
- Direct TV: FSOhio
- Dish: FSOhio
- AT&T: FSOhio