Cleveland Cavaliers (16-7, 7-5 road) vs. Oklahoma City Thunder (12-9, 6-5 home)
Offensive Rating: Thunder – 105.7 (20th), Cavs – 108.3 (13th)
Defensive Rating: Thunder – 102.6 (4th), Cavs – 102.8 (5th)
Pace: Thunder – 92.1 (19th), Cavs – 93.4 (22nd)
View from the enemy: Cavs the Blog
I don’t even want to hear it. I don’t care if you’re excited about this game because a certain player is coming to town. That’s fine if that’s what has you amped for this game. I’m psyched to see No. 35 in white and a 12-9 team that’s got a chance to really make a big statement with a win over one of the NBA’s elite.
That’s one thing the Thunder have had a little trouble sustaining: momentum. In this so far good season, the most OKC has won in a row is two. Tonight’s another crack at three. Of course it won’t be easy against LeBron and Shaq, but I like this team at home. I feel like this group is starting to sense the moment and understand what it takes to win games. Here’s another chance at it. It’s not the end of the world if they lose – heck, it’s kind of expected – but at the same time it feels like a win is very, very possible.
Cleveland comes in off a win at home against Portland Friday night. Before that, the Cavs dropped two straight roadies to Houston and Memphis. Most expected Cleveland to be better than 16-7, but these guys are still in the top five of the NBA and obviously with LeBron, they are tough.
I know some are probably excited at the prospect of Kevin Durant having an opportunity to show up LeBron. And while that’s definitely intriguing, I see this game coming down to point guard and bench play. Mo Williams is fairly inconsistent and we all know how up and down Russell Westbrook can be. Williams is averaging 16.7 ppg and 4.9 apg but isn’t playing near to level he was last year.
The Cavs rely mostly on Delonte West and Anderson Varejao to provide production off the bench. With Shaq being questionable with an eye injury, it’s likely Zydrunas Ilgauskas will start. James Harden has been such a huge boost off the bench for the Thunder and players like Nick Collison, Shaun Livingston and Serge Ibaka have actually made OKC’s bench into somewhat of a strength.
OKC should have an advantage at the four with Jeff Green versus J.J. Hickson. Hickson has been a pleasant surprise for Cleveland, but I just like Green there. I actually hope Shaq is able to play because I like Nenad Krstic pulling him away from the bucket and setting up a lot of pick and roll and pick and pop with Westbrook. Obviously that’s still there against Ilgauskas, but that’s been one way teams have really attacked the Cavs this year.
As for KD against LeBron, it wouldn’t shock me to see Thabo guard Bron for a good amount of the game. But I think Durant is up to the challenge. He might have a little trouble with James bullying him going to the bucket, but I think Durant has a chance to really match up well with LeBron.
Color me excited for this one and not because a certain No. 23 is in town. With the brutal stretch ahead, any win against these type of teams is big, especially at home.
Tip at 6:00 CST. Go Durants.