Preview 10 of 82: Thunder @ Cavs
Time: 6:00 PM CST
TV: Fox Sports Oklahoma
The Oklahoma City Thunder (5-4) are back on the road tonight, taking on the once mighty Cavaliers (1-9) at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland. The Thunder will be without Russell Westbrook due to the sprained ankle he suffered on Monday night, but will get a chance to find their footing against a Cavs team that’s currently last in the Eastern Conference and without Kevin Love for the foreseeable future.
Tip-off is at 6:00 PM CST and will be televised on Fox Sports Oklahoma. The Thunder are 6-point road favorites according to Odds Shark.
- Russell Westbrook: Out — Ankle
- Andre Roberson: Out — Knee
- Sam Dekker: Out — Ankle
- Kevin Love: Out — Foot
Cavaliers: George Hill, Rodney Hood, Cedi Osman, Larry Nance Jr., Tristan Thompson
What to Watch For
Is this your king?: Life hasn’t been easy for the Cavs since LeBron James made his way to Los Angeles, as the defending Eastern Conference champions have stumbled to a 1-9 start, have already fired their head coach, and are currently on a six-game skid. With Kevin Love out for a month due to toe surgery, the scoring burden is being carried by Jordan Clarkson (15.6 PPG), George Hill (12.6 PPG), and Cedi Osman (12.5 PPG). Sure, the Thunder are without Westbrook. Even still — that shouldn’t matter against a team that is led in scoring by Jordan Clarkson.
Schroder Show: With Westbrook out, the keys to the Thunder offense will be handed over to Dennis Schroder. The backup point guard was excellent down the stretch against the Pelicans on Monday, scoring 16 of his season-high 22 points after Westbrook went down late in the third quarter. The Thunder did go 0-2 with Schroder at the helm to start the season, but he figures to have more success against an overmatched opponent like the Cavs. That being said, George Hill is a good enough defender to keep that particular match-up interesting.
Big Kiwi: Steven Adams will step into an increased role while Westbrook is on the mend — especially in scoring and on the glass. He averaged 17 points and 14.5 rebounds in the two games without Westbrook to open the season. After playing exceptionally well against Anthony Davis on Monday, there’s good reason to believe he will eat Tristan Thompson alive.
PG’s Team: Paul George will be the focal point of the Thunder attack until Westbrook returns, so it’s time he snaps out of the shooting slump he’s been in to open the season. He’s been extremely effective across a number of statistical categories, averaging 22.7 points, 6.7 rebounds, 4.3 assists, and 2.6 steals per game. However, he’s shooting just 39 percent from the floor and 33 percent from downtown — well off his averages from a season ago. His task during this stretch will be to stay aggressive and find his rhythm on the offensive end while maintaining everything he does for the Thunder defense. Facing the 24th-ranked scoring defense could provide the spark he needs to get rolling.
Nick Gallo’s game day report from what appears to be a very chilly Quicken Loans Arena: