Well everything is fixed and there’s nothing to worry about ever again. The remade Cleveland Cavaliers stomped the Celtics in their debut on Sunday. On Tuesday, they’re set to end their pre-All-Star Break portion of their schedule in another marquee game, this time against the Oklahoma City Thunder on the road. Let’s see if the good times will roll.
Who: Cleveland Cavaliers (33-22) at Oklahoma City Thunder (32-25)
When: 8:00 PM
Where: Chesapeake Energy Arena
Where on my eyeballs? TNT
Cavaliers injuries: Kevin Love (OUT - hand)
Thunder injuries: Andre Roberson (OUT - knee), Carmelo Anthony (QUESTIONABLE - ankle), Russell Westbrook (QUESTIONABLE - ankle)
Three keys to the game:
- The Cavaliers will roll with their starting lineup that they played against the Celtics. That means Cedi Osman will stay in the starting lineup. He’s earned it, thus far. In his two games, he’s scored efficiently, distributed well as a secondary creator, and aside from one hilarious missed dunk, he’s acquitted himself well. He might not be in the starting lineup for long as new Cavaliers work their way into the rotation, but for now, he’s helping the Cavs. It’s nice to see.
Cedi's per game stats as a starter?— realcavsfans.com (@realcavsfans) February 11, 2018
14 ppg, 59% from the field, 50% from 3, 5.5 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals and a partridge in a pear tree.
- The Thunder absolutely destroyed the Cavaliers with 148 points in the last game these two teams met. The Cavaliers upgraded their defensive personnel in a serious way at the trade deadline, but this should be a slightly stronger test than the Celtics mostly anemic offense. The Cavs may not be a great defensive team, but a decent effort here would go a long way. The Thunder have a ton of elite offensive talent - if the Cavaliers go switch-heavy again, they’ll have to hold their own against mismatches.
- The Cavaliers didn’t really run any plays against the Celtics. They didn’t need to. A LeBron James spread pick and roll with a rim runner is enough to generate amazing looks, and it was against Boston. The Cavaliers consistently generated open threes while LeBron feasted as a playmaker. There is probably no team in the NBA better at recovering and closing down open space than the Thunder right now, though they miss Andre Roberson on that end. If the Cavs aren’t crisp with their passing, then they’ll create and endless parade of pick-sixes for OKC’s defense.
Another day, another marquee matchup for new Cavaliers starting point guard George Hill. He did an excellent job against one of the smoothest and most skilled guards in the league in Kyrie Irving. Now he gets to play against the most physically intimidating guard in Russell Westbrook. He’ll be at a speed disadvantage, but he also can leverage his length to bother Russ as long as he’s making contact. On the other end, George should be able to exploit Russ’s space cadet tendencies on that end for some easy looks.
Fear the Sword’s Fearless Prediction
While we’re all inclined to feel positively about the Cavaliers right now, I’m choosing to be hesitant on a full-blown freakout about how good they looked against Boston. OKC is a very good team with a point differential better than their record. They win this one 112-108.