The Cleveland Cavaliers will head into the fourth game of their four-game road trip tonight against the Oklahoma City Thunder. The road trip has gone about as well as you could imagine. Beat the Knicks in MSG? Check. Win in Washington, with LeBron ripping the Wizards’ hearts out like Montezuma in the process? Check. Drop 40 points in the fourth quarter to beat a red-hot Indiana Pacers team with a great homecourt advantage? Check. The Cavs have won six of seven now since their three-game losing streak. The Cavs! Who needs emotional stability?!
Now the Cavs get perhaps their biggest test of the trip: Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder, on a back-to-back on TNT. They’ll likely do it without the big three, who are likely to rest.
Who: Cleveland Cavaliers at Oklahoma City Thunder
When: 8:00 p.m.
Where: Chesapeake Energy Arena - Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Change the Channel to: TNT
- On January 29th, the Cavs bested the Thunder, 107-91. The game was every bit of the battle that you would expect a clash between the NBA’s two best athletes would be. While Kyrie Irving paced scoring with 29 points, LeBron James and Russell Westbrook handled the highlight play. Bron had 25/14/8, while Westbrook had yet another triple-double, with 20/12/10. If LeBron plays, this will be another excellent battle of the NBA’s two best Godzilla monsters. Hopefully for our sake, we see him emerge from the sea to battle with mothRuss.
- If the Cavs are without the big three, the big matchup immediately becomes Steven Adams against Tristan Thompson. Tristan had one of his better games of the season in the first matchup with the Thunder, posting 19 points, 11 rebounds, four steals, and four blocks. He completely took Adams, OKC’s best defender, out of the game with his threat as a screener on the perimeter, pulling Adams away from the basket and harrassing him on the glass. Thompson’s mobility on the perimeter is a problem for Adams, a capable perimeter defender who can handle the occasional switch, but can’t handle the amount of perimeter defense that defending Thompson makes you do as a five. Expect Tristan to be very active tonight.
- Kay Felder is probably going to get some time defending Russell Westbrook tonight. That’s a thing.
- Can the Cavs get Kyle Korver going in more inventive ways? Korver basically has to be a focal point of the offense if the Big Three are out, and the Cavs will have plenty of chances to experiment with ways to get Korver shots, both off screens and in catch-and-shoot opportunities when swinging the ball. The Cavs have been overly happy to get the former, and struggle to get the latter. Hopefully a Big Three-less game helps them work that out.
Fear the Sword’s Fearless Prediction: If the Big Three are playing, obviously this game is going to be more entertaining. But that isn’t likely, so unless Tristan, Korver, and Channing Frye play out of their minds, I’m expecting something like 30-35 from Westbrook in a Thunder win. OKC 116, Cleveland 97.