Rockets: Hey NBA schedule makers, we've got a bunch of new pieces and a new coach this year. Could you start us with an easy schedule so we can figure our stuff out? Oh, and Patrick Beverley might need surgery.
Rockets: Pretty please with a cherry on top?
NBA: Yeah. Here's what we're gonna do. You're gonna play your first two games on the road.
NBA: Then you'll come home.
Rockets: Sweet, a nice long homestand is perfect for-
NBA: -for one game and then you'll go on the road for a 5-game road trip including a Cleveland-New York back-to-back.
Rockets: Can we at least get other young teams that are trying to figure things out? What about the Pelicans? Or the Bucks?
NBA: You'll get Dwight Howard with revenge on his mind and you'll get the Spurs in their building.
NBA: And you'll like it. Next year, get your bribe in earlier. Mark Cuban has already paid for next year's easy schedule.
NOTE: The game was moved up to 5pm CT to accommodate Game 6 of the World Series in Cleveland. The Cavs will go to the game after their game with the Rockets concludes and the Rockets will receive a police escort to the airport to get to New York, where they have a game tomorrow. Link.
Tip off is at 5pm CT on NBA TV.
Point Guard: James Harden vs. Kyrie Irving
I love James Harden. Like, he might be my favorite player of all-time. It sounds ridiculous to say, but he's the most underrated superstar in recent memory. He's unselfish and incredibly intelligent.
But Kyrie Irving hit the series winning shot over the unanimous MVP of a 73-9 Warriors team last year to bring Cleveland back from a 3-1 deficit in the Finals and I cried tears of happiness.
This is a tough matchup to predict. Neither team has a defensive answer for the other, though the Cavs have more options for Harden and can always throw that LeBron guy on Harden.
Shooting Guard: Eric Gordon vs. J.R. Smith
I didn't know who to give the edge to here. Gordon has started off well and is doing the things he needs to do to be a secondary offensive threat. In time, he'll be great here.
Smith is enjoying a new contract and will get tons of open looks.
I asked my friend for the edge, and he said to call it even because they're both wild cards. I agree.
Small Forward: Trevor Ariza vs. LeBron James
The greatest thing to come out of the Cavs' championship, besides the satisfaction of a cocky Warriors team finally getting their comeuppance, was the meme that was spawned from the win. This will always be funny.
Power Forward: Ryan Anderson vs. Kevin Love
Ryno showed the flashes against the Mavs that Rockets fans want to see. With him and EG, the Rockets are fully in "pick your poison" mode. Collapse and Harden and you give up 3s. Stay home and you either get lobs to Capela or easy Harden buckets.
But Kevin Love is the Cavs' version of Ryan Anderson, and he's better on the boards. He hasn't started the season too hot from the field (38%), but he's making up for it by getting to the line 8 times per game. That's even more than LeBron and Kyrie so far this season (insert "it's still early" caveat here).
Center: Clint Capela vs. Tristan Thompson
Capela has more raw athleticism, but TT already knows his own game inside and out. He's a monster on the glass and can play above the rim when necessary.
I'm actually really looking forward to this matchup, especially if Capela can stay out of foul trouble. Nene against the Cavs will be disastrous if he's out there more than 15 minutes.
Rockets: Corey Brewer, Sam Dekker, K.J. McDaniels, Tyler Ennis, Nene
Cavs: Chris Andersen, Richard Jefferson, Iman Shumpert, Mike Dunleavy
Prediction: Rockets fall 108-98
Rockets vs Cavaliers coverage