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Cavaliers vs. Warriors: Game Preview

Hopefully Isaac Okoro can slow down Steph Curry a smidge.

NBA: Cleveland Cavaliers at Golden State Warriors Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Fresh off a dominant 103-90 win over the Charlotte Hornets, the Cavs (20-34) will look to keep the momentum going against the visiting Golden State Warriors (27-28) Thursday night at Quicken Loans Arena. Both teams are playing their second game of a back-to-back.

The Cavaliers’ injury situation is sitcom levels of funny at this point. Just as Larry Nance Jr. and Jarrett Allen return, Collin Sexton goes down with a groin injury. Sexton joins Dylan Windler and Damyean Dotson on the injured list and all three are listed as out against the Warriors. Golden State will be without Kelly Oubre and Eric Paschall. The number two overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, James Wiseman, underwent surgery on a torn meniscus, further complicating the Warriors’ frontcourt situation. That should bode well for the Cavaliers, whose frontcourt situation has dramatically improved.

Projected Starters

Without Collin Sexton, expect to see a similar lineup to the one last night. Garland and Isaac Okoro in the backcourt is a given and works well. Dean Wade started at small forward last night and that should be expected again. Kevin Love and Jarrett Allen will makeup up the frontcourt for the Cavaliers. Cedi Osman only saw 12 minutes in yesterday’s win, and that trend of 15 minutes or less will likely continue barring injury. Taurean Prince looked great off the bench, scorching Charlotte for 25 points on 9/13 shooting. He and Larry Nance Jr. will be the first two off the bench for J.B. Bickerstaff.

What to Watch for

Just Garland Again

For the second game in a row, Darius Garland will play without Collin Sexton in the backcourt. The Cavaliers are 4-5 this season in which Sexton does not play, though they have a net rating of -42 in those contests per Basketball-Reference. So, when they lose without Collin, they LOSE. It will be interesting to see how the offense looks with just Garland, especially with the best pieces of the roster now healthy.

Kevin Love and Dean Wade stretching the floor and Jarrett Allen makes for a good pick and roll partner. Isaac Okoro can mostly do some offensive stuff when asked to, even if that does not include shooting the basketball. And to keep up with the Warriors, the Cavaliers will need to have the offense humming. That starts and probably ends with Darius Garland.

Chef is Cooking

Even by Steph Curry standards, Steph Curry is red hot. He has not scored less than 32 points since March 17th against the Rockets (he scored 18 in that contest). In those seven games since, he is averaging 38.4 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 4.1 assists per game per Basketball-Reference. Oh, and in those games, he is shooting 45.7% from three-point land. Gulp.

The Warriors rely on him for offense, as they should. Golden State has an offensive rating of 113.6 with him on the floor and 100.5 when off per NBA Stats. That is quite literally night and day. Should probably give Draymond Green his dues as well, even if he is a massive nonfactor when shooting the basketball. The Warriors have a 113.8 offensive rating with him on the court and a 101.9 rating when off.