The Cleveland Cavaliers are coming off the Darius Garland show where he put up a career-high 37 points on Monday. They have a favorable schedule for the rest of April and will look to begin the streak as they travel to Oklahoma City and take on the Thunder at 8 p.m. on Thursday.
How to watch:
Tipoff is at 8 p.m. on Fox Sports Ohio, Fox Sports Go and NBA League Pass
The Cavs seem to never be fully healthy, but they are getting close to being at full strength. They will be without Jarrett Allen (concussion), Larry Nance Jr. (illness) and Dylan Windler (knee) once again, but Kevin Love has begun to play more minutes as he tries to find his rhythm. Love seems to be somewhat healthy for the first time since December, and it opens everything up for the offense. Collin Sexton and Garland don’t have to orchestrate everything, because they can play off of Love while he goes to work in the post. Isaac Okoro seems to be gaining momentum as well, whether it’s because he is getting more comfortable, or Love’s return has helped him, his offense is finally clicking.
The Thunder might be the most banged up team in the NBA, and the Cavs should be able to take advantage of that. The Thunder are missing their entire starting five, and have lost four straight.
Cavs: Darius Garland / Collin Sexton / Isaac Okoro / Kevin Love / Dean Wade
Thunder: Theo Maledon / Svi Mykhailiuk / Kenrich Williams / Aleksej Pokusevski / Moses Brown
Things to watch for:
· Emergence of Okoro? All season long the rookie has had the pleasure of taking on the top defensive assignments night in and night out. He struggled offensively as he often got in foul trouble early trying to defend the LeBron James, James Harden and Trae Young’s of the world. It seems that his offense has turned the corner, and he has become fully acclimated to the Cavs system. His three-point shot is looking pure, and he dunks on someone about once a week. It is fairly common for rookies to begin to show promise in the second half of the season, and Okoro is doing just that.
· The Cavs have to go streaking if their eyeing the play-in tourney. The Cavs are 3.5 games out of the play-in tournament and 3.5 games out of last place in the Eastern Conference. If they truly want to make the play-in tournament, then the streak has to begin now. The season is dwindling down and they have a fairly easy schedule for the rest of the month. Granted, nothing comes easy for this Cavs team, but they play a banged up Toronto team twice, Detroit, Orlando, banged up Charlotte twice and Washington twice. Most of those teams are likely eyeing the lottery as opposed to the play-in tournament, so the Cavs must start winning games if they want to get some postseason experience under their belt.
· Sexland needs to be consistent. It is no secret the Cavs will go as far as Garland and Sexton will take them. They look more comfortable every night together, but they need to be more consistent when one of them is cooking. It has often been one or the other carries the team, but they need to do it together. If they could combine for 45-50 points on a consistent basis, while this team starts to get healthy, the play-in tournament is very realistic. Their schedule in May is brutal, and they will face off against mostly playoff teams, so the time for Sexland to gain momentum is now.