- When: Wednesday, 07 November 2018 at 6:00 pm CST
- Where: Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland, OH
- TV: FSOK
- Radio: WWLS The Sports Animal (98.1 FM, 640 AM, 930 AM (Spanish))
- Line: OKC -6.5 | O/U: 218
- Off Rating: OKC – 107.3 (18th) | CLE – 106.4 (20th)
- Def Rating: OKC – 105.4 (5th) | CLE – 117.2 (30th)
Adversity is a word that has become synonymous with the Oklahoma City Thunder this season. Whether it’s Andre Roberson needing an extra two months of rehab due to a stitch. Or Russell Westbrook missing all of the training camp and the first two games of the season. Or Paul George having to deal with another weird injury (numb forearm last season, numb foot this year). Or Westbrook going down with a sprained ankle after the Thunder were on their current roll of five wins in a row.
But unlike other seasons, the Thunder seem better equipped to handle these various adversities. The acquisition of Dennis Schröder in the offseason makes losing someone of Westbrook’s ilk no longer a total detriment to the team. Now, granted, I’m aware the Thunder are 0-2 without Westbrook, but they remained competitive throughout most of those games and were right in the thick of things against the Golden State Warriors.
In addition, the continued development of Alex Abrines and Terrance Ferguson have muted the loss of Andre Roberson so far this season. When Roberson went down last season on January 27th, the Thunder were 5th in the league in Defensive Rating at 104.9. From January 28th until the end of the regular season, with Roberson out of the lineup, the Thunder were the 15th ranked team in Defensive Rating, at 108.5. So far this season, they are 5th in the league at 105.4.
The Recent Life of the Opponent
The Cavs come into this game with a record of 1-9. The reigning Eastern Conference champs are a shell of themselves with the loss of LeBron James (free agency) and Kevin Love (toe surgery). The veterans on the team are either looking to get traded or expecting to get traded. And the young guys on the team are not superstar (or even star) material. Cleveland is about to embark on a huge rebuild, and this season is just the beginning.
- Russell Westbrook (ankle) – Out
- Andre Roberson (knee) – Out
- Kevin Love (toe) – Out
- Sam Dekker (ankle) – Out
Three Big Things
1. Drive the Ball – The Cleveland Cavaliers have absolutely no rim protection at all. As a team, they average 2.18 blocks per game. AS A TEAM! There are 6 players in the NBA that average more blocks per game individually than the Cavs do as a team. Their best shot blocker, Tristan Thompson, averages just 0.4 blocks per game. That equates to 2.5 games played for every block he has. That is pitiful for a starting center in the league. In addition, they allow 52.6 points in the paint, which is 25th in the league. Schröder and Steven Adams should have a field day.
2. Allow the Cavs to run their offense – The Cavs average a league low in three point attempts at 22.8 and three point makes at 8.1. That plays right into the Thunder’s defensive wheelhouse. They allow the 4th fewest threes in the league at 9.2 per game and allow the 6th fewest attempts.
3. Paul George – When Westbrook was out, it almost felt like George was pressing. Trying to be the superstar the team needed at that time, instead of just playing his game. PG needs to do a better job of letting the game come to him in times when Westbrook is out.