Cavs vs. Thunder preview (Game 58 of 82)

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  • When: Tuesday, 13 February at 7:00 pm CST
  • Where: Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City, OK
  • Radio: WWLS The Sports Animal (98.1 FM, 640 AM, 930 AM (Spanish))
  • Line: OKC -1.5 | O/U – 221.5

The Set-Up: The last time the Oklahoma City Thunder faced the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Thunder were in the midst of an 8-game win streak, while the Cavs were looking more like a lottery team instead of a title-contending team. 

Fast-forward nearly a month later. The Thunder are an injured bunch, having lost their best defender, Andre Roberson, for the season to a ruptured patella tendon. Russell Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony have both missed the last two games with ankle sprains. And the Thunder, as a whole, have lost 5 of their last 7 games heading into this one.

Cleveland, on the other hand, completely changed the dynamic of their team at the trade deadline. Cavs GM Koby Altman wheeled and dealed his way into younger, faster, more hungrier players. Gone was Isaiah Thomas, who had become a bit of a malcontent in the locker room. Also gone was Jae Crowder, who was never a fit in Cleveland. And fan favorites Iman Shumpert and Channing Frye were also sent packing.

In their stead, Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr of the Lakers, George Hill of the Kings, and Rodney Hood of the Jazz have injected a much needed nitrous boost into the veins of LeBron James and the Cavaliers. It’s only been one game since the trade deadline, but the Cavs have not looked this alive and energetic since they reeled off 18 wins in 19 games earlier in the season.

Previous Meetings: The Thunder defeated the Cavs 148-124 (in regulation) on January 20th. Things have changed immensely since then.

Looking At The Numbers

1) 31 – That was the largest margin between the Thunder and Cavaliers in their last meeting. The Thunder ended up winning by 24, but the final score gives no justice just to how dominant the Thunder were in Cleveland. You can bet this won’t just be another game for LeBron and the Cavs. They were humiliated on their home floor and would want nothing more than to return the favor to the Thunder in Oklahoma City.

2) Rebounding – The Thunder have a distinct advantage over the Cavs on the boards. This was on full display in their last meeting as the Thunder outrebounded Cleveland 52-28, to include a 16-3 advantage on the offensive boards. That kind of dominance led to the Cavs usually going one and done on shots on their end of the court and having to contend with 2nd chance opportunities for the Thunder on the other end of the court.

3) Defensive Strategy – In their last meeting, the Thunder swarmed the perimeter with Paul George, Russell Westbrook, and Andre Roberson not even sinking into the paint at times. While the Cavs changed out their perimeter players, the inside is still a point of weakness for them. Look for the Thunder to deploy the same strategy, with George getting the brunt of the responsibility on James.

4) Game-time decision – Both Westbrook and Anthony went through non-contact practice yesterday and shoot-around this morning. They are said to be a game-time decision.

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