The major story from the game was Kyrie Irving, who looked to potentially seriously injure his left knee in the second quarter of the loss. He was diagnosed with a knee contusion, however, and played the second half, finishing with 20 points, three rebounds, and six assists.
The Cavs got out to a sizeable lead in the first quarter, thanks to a solid team offensive effort. However, once Durant got flowing in the second quarter, the Thunder stormed back, tying it at half. The Thunder quit turning the ball over, limiting the Cavs' fast break looks. Once trapped in the halfcourt, the Cavs struggled to get good looks to fall, especially after Kyrie went down. Without Kyrie and LeBron, the Cavs offense looked like it was missing a little spacing, and looks that are normally open weren't as open, and the Cavs couldn't convert, especially in the paint.
Meanwhile the Thunder just got better as the game went on, using a long hot streak in the third quarter fueled by Serge Ibaka and Anthony Morrow to extend the lead to as high as 17. The game turned in the fourth, however, when the previously impactful Ibaka fouled out, and the Cavs went on an 18-4 run to cut it to 95-91. However, Durant went into Slim Reaper mode late, posterizing Love and then draining a long two to put the game away.
It was a rough game, but the main takeaway from this game should be that the Cavs looked fine offensively without him until Kyrie went down, and Kyrie's not seriously injured. Just have to regroup, re-evaluate Irving and James, and get ready to tackle the Pelicans tomorrow night.
- The Cavs really dodged a bullet with Kyrie not appearing to be significantly injured. His landing from contesting Westbrook's shot looked like he both twisted and hyperextended his left knee, leaving many to worry about a potential serious injury like a meniscus or ACL tear. He just has a knee contusion though, per the Cavs' medical staff, so it's nothing serious. However, Kyrie did struggle mightily in the second half, finishing with 20 points on 21 shots. He played through the contusion, but I would have to think the Cavs will re-evaluate Kyrie tomorrow, and that there's a good chance he'll sit out the back-to-back game against the Pelicans. For a team that's talked so much about being cautious with injuries with LeBron, brining Kyrie back that quickly is a weird decision to make.
- Anderson Varejao was......not good. Andy finished with nine points and six rebounds in 27 minutes, but he looked noticeably lost on both ends, particularly offensively, where OKC's length inside looked like it really bothered him. This trend of poor play combined with Tristan looking very solid over the past few weeks is concerning for Wild Things' future minutes.
- Overall, the Cavs didn't look too bad offensively without LeBron. They hung tough, even though they went through a huge dry spell in the third quarter where they couldn't get a shot to fall. Love was able to create efficiently, Delly was fantastic, and Dion looked even more comfortable in the offense than he had earlier this week. There were signs of progress without LeBron in or Kyrie at 100%.
- The Cavs still outrebounded the Thunder tonight, 48-46, a great development. Shoutouts to Kevin Love (18/16) and Tristan Thompson (14/13) who both took over despite Varejao's ineffectiveness to keep the Cavs alive with rebounds on both ends. Great in particular to see Love dominate the glass in a year where he's struggled to do so.
- In the end, really only Durant and Westbrook getting hot killed the Cavs. Their offense was acceptable for the pieces they had available, they worked defensive matchups well despite disadvantages, and a late surge from Durant is all that kept them from potentially tying the game back up late. This was not a bad loss, by any means, and hopefully the Cavs can take out their frustrations in the Smoothie King Center tomorrow night.