The Cleveland Cavaliers will try to right the ship after losing three of their last four.
Who: Cleveland Cavaliers (29-20) vs. Houston Rockets (11-37)
Where: Toyota Center - Houston, TX
When: 8 p.m.
TV: Bally Sports Ohio, Bally Sports +, NBA League Pass
Spread: Cleveland -8.5
Opposing Blog: The Dream Shake
Cavs’ expected starting lineup: Darius Garland / Caris LeVert / Isaac Okoro / Evan Mobley / Jarrett Allen
Cavs’ injury report: Donovan Mitchell (QUESTIONABLE - groin), Kevin Love (QUESTIONABLE - back spasms), Dylan Windler (OUT - right ankle), Isaiah Mobley (OUT - G League)
Rockets’ expected starting lineup: Jalen Green / Garrison Matthews / Kenyon Martin Jr. / Jabari Smith Jr. / Alperen Sengun
Rockets’ injury report: Kevin Porter Jr. (OUT - foot), Eric Gordon (OUT - right knee), Jae’Sean Tate (OUT - right ankle), Darius Days (OUT - G League), Trevor Hudgins (OUT - G League)
What to Watch For
Quick start. The Cavs have been a mediocre first quarter team all season as they’re 17th in the league with a 0.1 net rating during the opening frame. This has been especially true of late as they’ve been outscored by 7.7 points per 100 possessions in the first during their last ten games.
The Rockets are going to be playing the second night of a back-to-back and have lost 14 of their last 15 games. They’ve been one of the worst first quarter teams, and team’s in general, all season.
The Cavs have made a habit of falling behind early and trying to dig themselves out of that hole. If they were ever going to break that habit, this is the team and situation to do that.
Three-point shooting. A lot has been made of the three-point defense recently. Whatever the true cause, opponent’s are hitting 42.6% of their threes over the last 16 games. This issue has been exaggerated due to the Cavs low volume of three-point shooting. As a result, the Cavs have been outscored by 27, 21 and 15 points from three over their last three games.
The Rockets aren’t a good three-point shooting team as they are 29th in three-point percentage at 33.1%. They are however a team that takes a lot of threes. Their 34.8 threes per game is the tenth most this season. Any team that shoots these many threes can be dangerous if they get hot.
Birthday performances. Today is Darius Garland’s 23rd birthday and Isaac Okoro’s 22nd. This is the second time each of them has played an NBA game on their birthday. Their first was last year in the signature win of last season, a 115-99 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks.
Garland was in complete control of that game has he finished with 19 points on 7-12 shooting with 8 assists in 26 minutes. Isaac Okoro’s stat line wasn't as impressive as he compiled only 3 points, but he was a big reason why the Bucks were held to under 100 points.
This game likely won’t be as memorable as that, but we’ll see if they can have good outings tonight.
Evan Mobley vs. Jalen Green. Mobley is a Cavalier because the Rockets opted for Green instead in the 2021 NBA Draft. The two will always be linked in some way.
While Mobley has had the better career thus far, Green’s team has had the advantage the two times they’ve shared the court since the draft. Green scored 23 points compared to Mobley’s 12 in Houston’s Summer League win in 2021. Green and Mobley were only available for one regular season meeting last year. Mobley outscored Green 29-21, but the Rockets won 115-104.
Mobley played one of his best, aggressive games in the loss last season like he had something to prove to the franchise that passed on him. Maybe he’ll channel his inner Andrew Wiggins and make good games against the Rockets a biannual tradition.