Cleveland (43-21) at Houston (45-21)
When: Sunday, March 12th 2017
Where: Toyota Center, Houston, TX
Time: 9:05 ET | TV: ESPN
The Cleveland Cavaliers will try and do something they haven’t done much of this season and that’s win in the second of a back-to-back. Standing in their way are the high-flying Houston Rockets on Sunday night. The Cavaliers snapped a three-game losing streak Saturday night with a 116-104 victory at Orlando and can’t afford any slip-ups with the Boston Celtics right on their heels. Cleveland has dropped six of its last seven in the second halves of back-to-back sets as it has been picking some of those games to give its stars some rest. Both LeBron James and Kyrie Irving sat out the finale of a back-to-back earlier this month at Miami, leading to a 28-point loss. James suffered a hip pointer in the loss at Detroit on Thursday but logged 38 minutes in the win over the Magic. Shooting guard J.R. Smith hit three 3-pointers and scored 11 points in his second game back from a thumb injury while Kyle Korver missed his second consecutive game due to a sore foot, although he is traveling with the team and could return soon. Irving has scored at least 20 points in a career-high 14 straight games, the second-longest active streak in the NBA.
James Harden overcame a brief injury scare to finish with 19 points and 13 assists against the Bulls as Houston held on to third place in the Western Conference standings. Harden recorded 41 points and 15 assists in a 128-120 loss at Cleveland earlier this season. Houston indicated it does not plan to rest any players if Cleveland does, as the Rockets schedule gets a bit easier after Sunday’s tilt. The Rockets’ next five opponents all are under .500, and they get a full three days off between home games against Denver and New Orleans near the end of that stretch. Ryan Anderson made six 3-pointers for the second time this month and finished with 21 points at Chicago, but he is shooting 31.6% from long range at home compared to 46.9% on the road. Guard Patrick Beverley has scored a total of six points on 1-of-11 shooting over his last two games for the second ranked scoring offense in the league (115.1). Recent acquisition Lou Williams has scored in double-figures in two straight after failing to do so in his previous three contests.
Cleveland’s track record in these back-to-back games isn’t very good and they’re not playing well to begin with. I think Houston rolls here tonight.
Pick: Rockets -5
HEAD TO HEAD
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