Okla. City Thunder (24-19, 12-10 road) vs. Cleveland Cavaliers (33-11, 16-3 home)
TV: FS Oklahoma (Cox 37, HD 722, Tulsa Cox 27, DirectTV 679, UVerse 753)
Stream: Click here (Also, NBA League Pass is free right now!)
Radio: WWLS The Sports Animal (98.1 FM, 640 AM, 97.1 FM Tulsa)
Time: 6:30 CST
Offensive Rating: Thunder – 105.8 (21st), Cavs – 110.3 (6th)
Defensive Rating: Thunder – 103.0 (4th), Cavs – 103.3 (6th)
Pace: Thunder – 92.2 (18th), Cavs – 91.0 (27th)
View from the enemy: Cavs: The Blog
You know what? I honestly don’t feel horrible about this game. That’s not a huge ringing endorsement I know, but still, on the road in Cleveland, you normally don’t feel good.
First off, I’m thankful for it, because I’m ready to forget about Friday’s game against Memphis. But I mainly feel alright about it because I think the team wants to atone for the Memphis game. That doesn’t mean Oklahoma City should or will win, it just means that I fully expect the Thunder to compete and hang tough with Cleveland.
Of course one big reason could be that Cleveland will be without Thunder killer Mo Williams and Delonte West. That doesn’t always matter because LeBron is clearly awesome and the overall matchup will go in the Cavs favor, especially with the game being at Quicken Loans.
Cleveland coming in: The Cavs have won three straight, including the big one Thursday over the Lakers in front of the entire world. They’re 7-3 in their last 10 and are 16-3 at home, and have lost just once there since Nov. 5.
All eyes will of course be on LeBron and KD. It’ll surely be a great matchup and a ton of fun to watch, but the game will hardly hinge there. It will all come down to the supporting pieces. And with Williams and West out, OKC’s helpers should give the Thunder a slight advantage. But with that said, playing in Cleveland equalizes it and just having LeBron probably puts the Cavs over the top.
I think, I hope, that Russell Westbrook responds after a couple subpar games with a good one. The opportunity is there with Cleveland hurting at point guard. But with the way Eric Maynor has played, the pressure isn’t on Westbrook entirely. Jeff Green needs to support and rebound well against Anderson Varejao and J.J. Hickson. Nenad Krstic and Nick Collison need to contain Shaq and limit Zydrunas Ilgauskas’s open looks. What I love about Westbrook-Green-Krstic is the ability to run the high screen-and-roll against Shaq. That should be effective.
A guy like Anthony Parker could kill OKC because he’s the type of guy that has potential to step up and hit big shots. Thabo can’t leave him because Parker can knock down open looks. James Harden needs to produce off the bench and a big thing is just going to be rebounding. Rebound the ball and contain LeBron’s supporting cast and you’ve got a chance.
But again, I’m not ruling this one out. I don’t expect a win, but with the way this team has responded after tough games thus far (winning at Phoenix, at Atlanta), I think there’s a chance. We wanted to come back 2-2 after this road trip and that’s going to happen. But a win in Cleveland would make that heartbreaker in Memphis sting a whole lot less.
Tip at 6:30. Go Win on Mrs. DT’s Birthday.