Saturday Night matchups; Raptors @ Cavs, Mavericks @ Rockets

There are two games to check out tonight in the Association. The Cleveland Cavaliers look to rebound from a 13 point lost at the Washington Wizards. After winning four in a row they are on a three game losing streak and will be hosting the team with the best record in the Eastern Conference, the Toronto Raptors.

On NBA TV the Houston Rockets host the high scoring Dallas Mavericks at 8:00 pm. The Rockets are on a two game losing streak after getting handled by Memphis and then losing to the Los Angeles Lakers although without Dwight Howard. The Mavericks on the other hand are on a six game winning streak and dropped 140 points on the Lakers last night.

Toronto Raptors @ Cleveland Cavaliers 7:00 pm

Kyrie Irving and the Cavs look to stop a three game losing streak against Kyle Lowry and the Toronto Raptors.

The Raptors are playing some of the best basketball in the league right now. They won 8 of their last 9 games with their only lost being to Derrick Rose and the Bulls. They got a quality win at home against the Memphis Grizzlies and they just beat the Bucks by a franchise record 41 points. They sit atop the Eastern Conference with a 10-2 record with an offense that ranks third in points per game and a defense that is fifth in points allowed.

We already know the story of the Cavaliers. They looked bad, then good and now bad again. After beating the Hawks by 33 and having their best offensive performance of the season they dropped three in a row including a terrible lost at home to the lowly Denver Nuggets. They played well against the Spurs but lost by two and then John Wall and the Wizards ran them out of the building.

The Cavaliers need a win but more importantly they need to look better on both ends. The wins will come but they need to get Kevin Love some touches early and often. In the last three games Love has taken 33 shots while Kyrie has taken 43 and LeBron has taken 56.

Yes I know they are sacrificing their games but Love is being looked off too many times. After a pick & roll Kyrie Irving is dribbling and launching contested jumpers instead of giving Love the ball in the post. It’s like they just want Love to shoot three pointers instead of having an all-around performance.

The Cavs look their best when the ball is moving and everyone is picking up assists. They have to cut down on their turnovers and move the ball for a full 48 minutes. Ball movement can still look good even in a lost as they had 23 assists against the Spurs. Last night in Washington they had 19 turnovers and 13 assists. Three of those assists came from “The best backcourt” of Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters.

The Raptors can win in many ways. Their defense is good enough to get multiple stops and their offense is good to put teams away. In their win against Memphis they got stops to come back and win the game. Last night against the Bucks their offense put up 71 points in the first half while holding the Bucks to 45 points.

The Raptors have great guard play and will look to take advantage of that against the struggling Cavaliers. Both teams played last night so it might be a sluggish start on both ends. The Cavaliers need to execute better at home. The game will come down to the wire and whichever team can knock down some three pointers will win.

Dallas Mavericks @ Houston Rockets 8:00 pm

Dirk Nowitzki leads the red hot Mavericks into Houston to take on Dwight Howard and the Rockets.

Dwight Howard missed the game against the Lakers due to a knee issue. Many expected him to play before that but now he is listed as day-to-day. Without him the Rockets allowed Lakers to dominate the glass and finish the game on a 12-1 run to upset them at home.

The Mavericks can score points in bunches. So far they scored 118, 120, 123, 131 and now 140 points in a game. All wins by the way. Their defense somehow is ranked 14th in points allowed but their offense is number one with 111.3 points per game.

If Howard plays this game should be really entertaining and high scoring. Both teams are atop the league in three pointers attempted and made per game. The Mavs are more efficient but the Rockets are still second in the league in points allowed. The Rockets are better on the boards and the Mavericks do a better job of passing.

Without Howard, James Harden must do a better job of taking over the game and cutting down on turnovers. He was efficient against the Lakers with 24 points on just 11 shots but he had six turnovers.

The Mavs have a good balance with Monta Ellis and Dirk Nowitzki both averaging 19 points per game and taking under 16 shots. Monta has been really good lately and they are still waiting for Chandler Parsons to have a breakout game.

This should be the game of the night. The Mavs might be challenged on the defensive end but expect them to find a way to put points on the board.