Five Keys: Cavaliers at Rockets

Key: Fear the Beard

Like Tuesday night’s battle with Giannis, the Cavaliers will face a player who – like LeBron James – plays all positions and no position.

And like LeBron, James Harden has recently gone off for 50-plus – dropping 56 points on the Jazz in Houston’s 29-point victory. In that contest, the Beard went 19-for-25 from the floor, including 7-of-8 from long-distance and 11-for-12 from the stripe, adding a game-high 13 assists and a pair of steals.

In 15 career contests against the Cavaliers, Harden has been both brilliant and terrible. In a huge road win two years ago, the Wine & Gold flummoxed the MVP candidate – holding him to 11 points. Last year, on the other hand, he averaged 39.5 points and 13.0 assists in two games against Cleveland.

LeBron, who dropped 57 on the Wizards last Friday, went for 30 points in Tuesday’s win, going 10-of-20 from the floor to go with a team-high nine assists, eight boards and three steals. Last season against Houston, the four-time MVP averaged 24.5 points on 56 percent shooting, adding 10.0 boards and 6.5 assists in the two-game split. They won’t be matched up on each other much on Thursday night, but all eyes will be on two of this generation’s greatest players.

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