Great in The New Year

As 2007 came to a close, both the Cleveland Cavaliers and Houston Rockets were underachieving as their big-name players failed to deliver. Just over a month later, LeBron James has the Cavaliers in the thick of the Eastern Conference playoff picture, while Tracy McGrady has the Rockets closing in a playoff spot in the Western Conference.

Cleveland and Houston both look to continue their impressive starts to the new year as they meet Thursday at the Toyota Center.

Oddsmakers from SBG Global have made Houston -5 point spread favorites (NBA Odds) for today’s game, the over/under has been set at 185.5 total points (Matchup). Our public betting information shows that 83% of bets for this game have been placed on Cleveland +5 (View NBA Bet Percentages).

On New Year's Eve, the Cavaliers (27-20) were tied with Philadelphia for ninth place in the East at 14-17, while the Rockets (28-20) were 10th in the West at 15-16.

Since Jan. 1, however, Cleveland has the league's second-best record at 13-3, while Houston is 13-4. The Cavs have jumped all the way to fourth place in the East, and the Rockets have moved a game back of Golden State for the West's final playoff spot.

"I think as a team, we are playing with a lot of confidence and we are playing together so well right now," said Cleveland's Daniel Gibson after Tuesday's 114-113 victory over Boston.

The Cavs have won four of their last five, and improved to 2-1 against the Celtics.

"It definitely means something,'' James said about beating the team with the league's best record. "We want to continue to play well and we want to continue to win. We know we can play with any team in the NBA.''

James had another outstanding game on Tuesday, finishing with 33 points, 12 assists, nine rebounds and five steals. The four-time All-Star is averaging 35.0 points, 10.0 boards and 6.4 assists in his last five games.

James had 32 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists in his last game against the Rockets, a 91-85 victory on March 5. The No. 1 overall pick of the 2003 draft is averaging 30.3 points, 8.0 boards and 5.5 assists in his last four games against Houston.

The Cavs and Rockets split the season series in 2006-07, with each team winning at home.

Houston is coming off a 92-86 victory over Minnesota on Monday, its fourth straight win.

McGrady had 26 points, including five in the final 70 seconds, to help the Rockets improve to 8-1 since he returned from missing 11 games with a sore left knee. McGrady is averaging 24.8 points and 7.8 assists in four games since returning to Houston's starting lineup.

"Tracy is getting better. He's still not in the greatest of shape missing all that time, but he played the whole second half tonight and you saw how he finished,'' Rockets coach Rick Adelman said.

McGrady struggled in the two games against the Cavaliers last season, though, scoring just 32 points on 13-of-37 shooting in after averaging 33.1 points in his previous 13 games against them.

Yao Ming had 40 points and 16 rebounds in the two games against Cleveland last season. Yao, the first overall pick of the 2002 draft, is averaging 28.4 points and 14.8 boards in his last five home games.

By: Marc Young - theSpread.com - Email Us

More NBA Basketball Coverage from theSpread.com

 - NBA Basketball teams
 - NBA Basketball standings
 - NBA Basketball schedule
 - NBA Basketball scoreboard
 - NBA Basketball injuries
 - NBA Basketball matchups
 - NBA Basketball stats
 - NBA Basketball odds
 - NBA Basketball public betting chart
 - NBA Basketball news wire
 - NBA Basketball top stories
 - NBA Basketball trends
 - AccuScore NBA Basketball predictions
 - Expert NBA Basketball picks
 - Comments and discussion
 - Signup for theSpread.com daily newsletter
 - NBA Basketball Home

NBA Top Stories

Thumbnail NBA Finals Odds After a year of waiting, we finally have the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors set to meet in the NBA Finals for a third straight time. Here’s a look at the odds to win...
Thumbnail Cavs vs. Celtics Game 5 Pick Will the Cleveland Cavaliers close out the Eastern Conference Finals with a big win when they face the Boston Celtics tonight in Game 5 at...
Thumbnail Celtics vs. Cavs Game 4 Pick Will the Cleveland Cavaliers bounce back after an embarrassing loss when they host the Boston Celtics tonight in Game 4 at...
Thumbnail Warriors vs. Spurs Game 4 Pick Will the Golden State Warriors continue their dominance of the San Antonio Spurs when they meet up in Game...
Thumbnail Celtics vs. Cavs Game 3 Pick Will the Cleveland Cavaliers show any mercy to the Boston Celtics when the two meet in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals tonight at...

NBA Headlines

  • INDEPENDENCE, Ohio (AP) Vegas is betting against them and the bookies are hardly alone.
    Let's be honest, not many are giving the Cleveland Cavaliers much of a chance in the NBA Finals. They m...
  • OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) Mike Brown is ready for Tyronn Lue to pay up on a nearly two-decade-old bet. Yep, Lue owes him $100 and Brown plans to accept it at long last - perhaps even during the NBA Fin...
  • OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) When Bob Myers hosts a dinner party, he is the guy who once it's all over has a pretty good read on the entire evening: who had a great time, who held something back, which co...
  • AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) Stan Van Gundy of the Detroit Pistons has won the Rudy Tomjanovich Award, which honors an NBA coach for his cooperation with media and fans, as well as excellence on the c...
  • Here they go again.
    For the third straight year, it's Cleveland and Golden State in the NBA Finals. The 2016 champions versus the 2015 champions . The first ''threematch'' - rematch of a remat...

NBA Team Pages