Me earlier this season: Why do the Rockets never get a day off? All we do is play back-to-backs!
Me this week: Why do we have so many days off in a row? I hate this!
There is no such thing as a perfect NBA schedule. Stretches that look impossible early in the season can become mundane and stretches of “easy” games can become a gauntlet.
Personally, I looked at this Utah Jazz-Cleveland Cavaliers-Memphis Grizzlies homestand as a tough early-season test for the Rockets. Obviously, the Rockets won the first game convincingly behind 56 points and 13 assists from James Harden.
Still, this stretch and basically all of October and early November became a bit of a moot point. As long as Chris Paul is injured, the Rockets won’t be operating at their peak. We all know how good an MDA-coached Harden-led basketball team can be: 50+ wins and entertaining as hell. Yet, none of that matters to a team that has consistently stated that their goal is to be the last team standing in June.
The Cavs are a team with the same goal. Any team with LeBron James running the show is an automatic championship contender, no matter the wins or the quality of basketball on the court.
Cleveland comes into the game with the second-best offensive efficiency in the NBA (Houston is tied for third), but is dead-last in defense.
With the Cavs at 5-6, missing Tristan Thompson, and Isaiah Thomas still out with an injured hip, it might be tempting to call this a comfortable Rockets win. Of course, most serious basketball fans know it’s stupid to count out a team with LeBron and the talent the Cavs have assembled.
Derrick Rose still has moments of brilliance. They are even more common for Dwyane Wade. J.R. Smith, Kyle Korver, Iman Shumpert, Jae Crowder, and Jeff Green can all score from the wing and can fill up the hoop with triples. If the Rockets are late on their rotations, they’re going to get steamrolled. Don’t be surprised if the Cavs dust off Channing Frye after he got a DNP-CD against the Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday.
Oh, and that Kevin Love dude is really good.
So is LeBron.
Tip-off is at 7pm CT on TNT (Ugh)