There haven’t been many times since LeBron James returned to the Cleveland Cavaliers that you go into a game without many expectations. Usually with LeBron, you always feel like you have some chance at winning the game. But with Kevin Love out, Isaiah Thomas struggling to find his rhythm, and one of the worst defenses we’ve ever seen on a playoff team, it’s hard to be optimistic about this matchup.
Who: Cleveland Cavaliers (30-20) vs Houston Rockets (37-13)
When: 8:30 pm
Where: Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland, Ohio
Where on my eyeballs: ABC
Cavs injuries: Kevin Love (Hand - OUT), Iman Shumpert (Sat so we can trade him - QUESTIONABLE)
Rockets Injuries: Eric Gordon (Lower back - Questionable), Trevor Ariza (Left hamstring - QUESTIONABLE)
Fortunately for the Cavs, they do still have LeBron James, who gives them a punchers chance on any given night. But if they want to pull off this upset, it will take a level of team defense and effort that we just haven’t seen much of this season.
There’s no doubting that LeBron will be motivated heading into this matchup, as James Harden has pulled away from him in the MVP race. The December-January swoon for both LeBron and the Cavs has killed a lot of the momentum behind his MVP narrative. With a superhuman performance on national TV, it could provide a spark towards attempting to change the discussion.
The biggest challenge the Cavs will face is going to be attempting to limit the star guards of the Rockets. Cleveland is starting arguably the worst defensive guard pairing in the league, while the Rockets have a strong case for best backcourt in the association. Unlike going up against the Warriors with Curry and Thompson, both Chris Paul and Harden are capable of breaking defenders down off the dribble and really pressuring a defense. With the Cavs poor communication and defensive personnel, this is likely a recipe for disaster.
Fear the Sword’s Fearless Prediction:
Remember that this game is taking place on a Saturday night. There are better things that you could do with your time, like damaging your body consuming alcohol. Or maybe you want to get a head start on that gambling addiction that you always wanted to start. There’s a chance that if you do watch the game, you’ll get to watch a special performance from LeBron and the Cavs, but any win on Saturday would require a significant amount of help from the Rockets by coming out flat. Prediction? Rockets win 130-112.