Who: Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Oklahoma City Thunder
When: 7 p.m.
Where: Quicken Loans Arena — Cleveland, Ohio
Enemy Blog: Welcome to Loud City
TV: Fox Sports Ohio
Online: NBA League Pass, Fox Sports GO
Cavs injuries: Kevin Love (OUT - toe surgery), Sam Dekker (OUT - ankle sprain)
Thunder injuries: Russell Westbrook (OUT - ankle sprain)
Three keys to the game
The Cavs need a bounce back game from Cedi Osman is they want a chance, but it won’t be easy. Osman took the Magic loss hard, saying it was his fault and he’s not totally wrong. His botched pass to Jordan Clarkson cost the Cavs a possession when they were up with under a minute to go, and Evan Fournier shook him en route to his game winning shot. Plus, Osman missed eight of his nine three-pointers. He’s likely to be guarding Paul George on Wednesday, and perhaps guarded by him too. Let’s see how he handles it and at least see if he can improve on Monday’s performance.
George Hill was essential on Monday. When Hill got rolling Monday against the Magic, it changed things for the Cavs. He was scoring almost at will, made his threes and was nabbing steals on defense. With Dennis Schroeder stepping in for Westbrook, Hill has a much more manageable matchup and one he can absolutely win. If he does, it gives the Cavs a much better chance of pulling off the upset.
Larry Drew has lineup choices to make. With Kevin Love out and Sam Dekker now injured and out for 2-4 weeks, the Cavs don’t really have a healthy four on the roster. This means Drew is going to have to get creative with his lineup choices and it’s unclear what exactly he’ll do. On one hand, he could go smaller, play more wings and and stick to playing Tristan Thompson and Larry Nance Jr. as fives only. He could play them together more, a move that would cramp spacing for a team already lacking much shooting. Ante Zizic could get time too. is. Neither option is perfect, but this is a flawed roster.
My prediction: Kyle Korver and David Nwab arae likely to play some.
Tristan Thompson vs. Steven Adams is going to be nerdy fun. Both bigs crash the glass hard on both ends, run the floor well and do a lot of the dirty work for their teams. Ad both Thompson and Adams are among the best screeners in the NBA. This year, Thompson leads the league in screen assists per game at 6.1, per nba.com/stats, while Adams sixth in the league at 4.1 per game. Expect a lot of these two colliding and trying to out-do one another.
And if Thompson is indeed back after last year’s down year, this is good test for him.
Fear the Sword’s Fearless Prediction
Even without Westbrook, the Thunder are probably just a better team. Thunder 107, Cavs 99.