NBA Picks: Rockets vs Cavaliers Odds, Prediction and Live Score
The early-season pattern of disinterested play that the Cavaliers and LeBron James usually exhibit hasn’t shown up this year. In the previous two seasons, the Cavs have suffered surprising losses and near-misses as NBA journalists criticized LeBron’s apparent lack of interest. Winning the NBA Championship seems to have erased this bad habit entirely. As such, the Rockets face the daunting task of dealing with peak Kyrie and a motivated Cavs squad.
Houston Rockets vs Cleveland Cavaliers Pick
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The Houston Rockets doubled down on scoring during the offseason, recruiting Ryan Anderson and Eric Gordon from the Pelicans, both of whom pack a punch on the offensive end. Unfortunately, Anderson is known for defending that peaks just below league average, to put it in a nice way. Whether his ability to drain threes and stretch the floor compensates for his lack of defensive prowess remains to be seen.
If anything, the Rockets may be the most improved in terms of entertainment value. There's no doubt that Mike D’Antoni will play to Houston’s strengths instead of attempting to fix weaknesses. As a result, James Harden and crew are likely to avoid last season’s nightmare scenario, which witnessed complete apathy from nearly everyone on the squad. A hi-tempo style will prevent disengagement - until the shots stop dropping, at least.
Despite playing in six consecutive NBA finals, LeBron seems as energized as ever, showing no sign of the hangover that plagued his early season performance in 2015. If anything, their recent dismissal of the Raptors on the road was achieved without their finest play. As the Cavaliers closest competitors, the Raps at full effort struggled to contain the Cavs, signalling the likelihood of another romp through the eastern conference.
Truth be told, if Kyrie Irving continues the incredible level of play he established during the 2016 NBA finals, few teams will be able to threaten the Cavs throughout the season. Cleveland’s current lineup might also be deeper than their championship squad after allowing Delly to sign a huge contract with the Bucks and snatching Mike Dunleavy Jr. from the Bulls. In theory, if everything goes right, the Rockets could catch Cleveland napping long enough to challenge for the win. Instead, expect Cleveland to challenge themselves by focusing on defence as the Rockets considerable attack fails to take off.
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The Houston Rockets have been attempting to recreate the halcyon days of Hakeem Olajuwon during the 1990s, when the team won two straight NBA championships during the brief hiatus of the Jordan era. General Manager Daryl Morey utilized a “moneyball” type of philosophy, leaning heavily on statistical analysis to make decisions. This lead to some success, but left the Rockets well short of a ring. Put simply, stats don’t necessarily reflect intangibles, creating an unstable team environment.
Even though the Cavs earned an NBA title in 2016, the truth is that the Cleveland franchise backed into good fortune when LeBron decided that his legacy should include his home town. They were also gifted three first overall picks between 2011-2014, giving them the resources necessary to add Kevin Love, creating another big three headed by LeBron. Now that Kyrie has proven to be a championship caliber baller, the Cavs will probably be the best in the eastern conference over the next few years. Cleveland wants to take advantage of their sudden reversal of fortune as a franchise, instead of taking it for granted.
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