Pregame Dribbles: For Cavs, Another High-Powered Challenge Awaits

Sam Amico

CLEVELAND -- Pregame dribbles as the Cavaliers get set to host Houston (7 p.m., FOX Sports Ohio).

1. Another massive challenge awaits as the Cavs have lost seven straight, 13 of 14 and have looked good maybe three times in that stretch. Now they get to tangle with James Harden and Russell Westbrook. Good luck, men.

2. Cavs coach John Beilein on the matchup: "Every game is an opportunity and this is no different. ... There's a reason these teams are playoff teams. They have the same guys coming back and experienced players."

3. Beilein is trying to keep a positive approach in spite of all the losing. His message to the team hasn't changed. After games he stresses that the Cavs (5-18) are getting better, "though they probably don't feel that way."

4. The mission is to get the players to believe it and keep a positive approach. It's a long, long season. As Beilein likes to say, it's about winning the "wars within the war."

5. Beilein was later asked about the Kevin Love trade rumors. "I don't think it's distracted anything right now," Beilein said. "I've been hearing it since the time I was hired. We want Kevin to go out and play his best for the Cleveland Cavaliers. ... Whatever happens in this basketball business, happens."

6. Beilein added he hasn't really addressed the rumors with Love, saying the two have "just talked around the edges." He reiterated later, "I haven't spent a lot of time with him on that, no."

7. Moving on, Harden is leading the NBA in scoring at 38.0 points. He is also passing for 7.5 assists and collecting 6.0 rebounds. Harden and the Rockets should be extra motivated, coming off a last-second home loss to Sacramento. It happened right after Westrook made a shot and loudly proclaimed, "It's over."

8. Atlanta guard Trae Young said the same against Miami a night later. The Hawks also ended up losing. Maybe that is an NBA trend that should end, no?

9. Statistically, the Cavs don't have much to brag about. Not a big surprise, given the state of things. Collin Sexton leads the team in scoring at 17.3 points. Despite a clunky recent stretch, Love is at 15.6 points and 10.5 rebounds.

10. For more on Love, check out: Love's contract, injury history may be cause for pause in trade talks.