So the Cavs got blown out by the Detroit Pistons last night. Surely that means they won't get destroyed by the reigning Western Conference champions, right?
Who? Cleveland Cavaliers (13-34) vs. Oklahoma City Thunder (35-11)
When? 7:30 PM Eastern
Where? Quicken Loans Arena -- Cleveland, OH
Where on my eyeballs? Fox Sports Ohio / NBA League Pass
Tickets? Cleveland Cavaliers tickets
I expected the Cavaliers to be competitive and possibly win last night against the Pistons. They were not competitive and did not come close to winning. Tonight, I expect the Cavs not to be competitive at all and to lose miserably. Perhaps it's opposite weekend?
There isn't a whole lot that I need to say about playing the Thunder. They're really good. They're coming off a loss in the NBA Finals and traded away their third best player. Somehow, they are still just as good. Which is kind of scary. They have this guy named Kevin Durant. He's leading the league in scoring and shooting 50% from the field, 40% from three, and 90% from the free throw line. KD is not nice.
Russell Westbrook is also really good. He gets plenty of criticism from the national media, but the fact remains that he's one of the 10 best players in the NBA. His ridiculous energy and athleticism makes him virtually impossible to contain. The only hope that opponents have is to pray that he's having a bad shooting night. Westbrook has virtually zero conscience when it comes to shot selection and will just keep firing away, even if he can't hit anything on a given night. I would assume that Alonzo Gee will be guarding Kevin Durant, so that leaves Dion Waiters or Kyrie Irving to guard Westbrook. Good luck with that.
When the Thunder traded away James Harden, many people assumed that they made the wrong choice and should have kept Harden instead of paying Serge Ibaka. Those people were wrong. Ibaka has emerged as a legitimate scoring option as well as one of the league's best rim protectors. His midrange jumper is much improved and he seems to be improving in virtually every facet of the game. Throw in Kevin Martin as a bench scoring option and the Thunder have just as much firepower as last season.
For the Cavaliers, the keys will be to somehow contain Kevin Durant and keep him from getting to the free throw line. So much of what KD so damn efficient is his ability to get free points at the line. It'd be wise to keep him from getting to the line 10 times tonight. But that's easier said than done.
Cleveland's transition defense against Detroit was atrocious. I can't even imagine what it's going to be like against one of the best transition teams in the NBA. Yikes.
I hope Tristan Thompson just keeps doing his thing. He's been a beast over the past month and his PER is up at 15.9 now.
I'm still waiting for that game when Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters both play legitimately good games.
Fear the Sword's Fearless Prediction
There will be blood. OKC win 114-101.