Two nights after losing to the Miami Heat by 4 points, the Cleveland Cavaliers will host the Oklahoma City Thunder. What kind of nonsense is that? You're really going to make Alonzo Gee guard LeBron James and Kevin Durant in back to back games? That's very uncool of you, NBA.
Who? Cleveland Cavaliers (26-42) vs. Oklahoma City Thunder (49-18)
When? 7:00 PM Eastern
Where? Quicken Loans Arena -- Cleveland, OH
Where on my eyeballs? Fox Sports Ohio / NBA League Pass
I know that the NBA schedule maker does not have a personal vendetta against any team, but this is just cruel. The Cavs just came back from a West Coast road trip where they finished with the Golden State Warriors and the Los Angeles Clippers (nobody could have expected the Phoenix Suns to actually be good, so that's forgivable). The Clippers are insanely good and were on a 10-game win streak. Then, the Cavs come home and are welcomed by the defending champion Miami Heat, the OKC Thunder, and the Houston Rockets. Is there a more brutal stretch of games for an NBA team this season?
The Cavs actually beat the Thunder last time these two teams played -- and that game was in Oklahoma City! So why can't the Cavs do the same thing tonight? Well, one good reason is that Cleveland won't have Kyrie Irving. Kyrie has a thing for playing against the Thunder and always seems to have some really ridiculous games against Durant and Co. AS you know, Kyrie is sidelined with that bizarre bicep injury, so he won't be able to do his Mr. 4th Quarter thing tonight.
Despite the harsh slate of recent and upcoming games, Cleveland might catch a bit of a break tonight. Russell Westbrook is still working into form after his lingering knee injury that he sustained in the first round of the 2013 NBA Playoffs. Right now, it appears as though Westbrook is doubtful for tonight's game at the Q. That should spare us the pain of having to watch Jarrett Jack flail around as he tries to keep up with Russ.
It won't, however, spare us the pain of watching Alonzo Gee and others try to defend Kevin Durant. I'm assuming that Luol Deng will still be out for this game with an ankle injury and, if that's the case, Durant might make LeBron James' 43 points look like child's play. The problem with all of these injuries is that the Cavs have ABSOLUTELY NOBODY TO DEFEND BIG WINGS. Gee is decent and he certainly tries hard on defense, but if he picks up some early fouls or needs to rest...it gets ugly. Dion Waiters can switch over to the SF position for a little bit, but that won't end well. CJ Miles is still not 100% after a particularly nasty ankle sprain kept him out for several weeks. I had the joy of watching Matthew Dellavedova try to guard LeBron James on Tuesday. It was comical. Kevin Durant might do horrible things to the record books tonight.
Now for a dose of sobering reality before I wrap up this preview....
The dream of making the NBA playoffs is dead. The Cavs are six games behind the Atlanta Hawks and have the surging New York Knicks ahead of them. It's over, my friends. You are now free to turn your attention to college basketball and the upcoming NBA Draft. March Madness starts today. Be happy and enjoy Andrew Wiggins.
Fear the Sword's Fearless Prediction:
Kevin Durant goes for 51 and the Thunder win 112-99. /sadface