I feel compelled to start this recap by reminding everyone that Kyle Singler airballed a layup tonight.
Simply put, the Cavaliers out-executed the Thunder today. OKC lost a go-to-scorer when Enes Kanter decided to punch a chair on Thursday against the Mavs. This had overtly obvious effects on the Thunder offense. Westbrook had 20 points, 12 rebounds, 10 assists, 1 steal and 1 block on a fairly inefficient 7-of-26 from the field. He earned his 24th triple-double of the season, but clearly needed help on the offensive end.
Adams and Oladipo are respectively the second and third best players for OKC, that’s certainly no hot take. It’s debatable about who’s considered to be the better player, but either way both guys are going to need step up in Kanter’s absence. That didn’t happen tonight. Adams had a disappointing night with 7 points, 10 rebounds, 1 assist and 1 block. Oladipo had his usual 17 points, 7 rebounds and 4 assists on 6-of-18 from the field. That simply won’t cut it against a championship quality roster like Cleveland.
OKC falls to 28-20 on the season. I have the sneaking suspicion that the Kanter injury will end up cementing the Thunder getting the seventh seed this season. Joffrey Lauvergne played 20 minutes and was one of the brighter spots for the Thunder tonight. He had 13 points, 6 rebounds and 1 assist. Sabonis also had an uptick in his scoring production with 12 points and 5 rebounds. Obviously Kanter’s injury is going to take some time for this team to adjust to. The second unit was running everything through Enes at times earlier this season and now they’ll have to rely on guys like Sabonis, Grant, Lauvergne and even Singler to step up.
Cleveland went without Kevin Love in the second half after reportedly having back spasms. The core of LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, Tristan Thompson and Iman Shumpert all played very well tonight. LeBron had 25 points, 14 rebounds, 8 assists and 1 steal. The Cavs have been in a slump this month and LeBron has made it clear they need another playmaker, but they didn’t need that tonight. Just for the record, Kyle Singler is available, somebody should give David Griffin a call.
Tuesday’s game against the Spurs on the road will likely prove to be a tough match-up as well. Luckily for the Thunder, February’s schedule isn’t quite as difficult as January has been. OKC is only playing eleven games in total, only two of those games aren’t played at the Chesapeake Arena and they get a nice rest for the All-Star break.
- The Thunder prioritized scoring in the paint. They tied Cleveland with 52 points in the paint, but they couldn’t buy a three-pointer for long stretches of this one. They went scoreless from three-point land in the first half – the third time that’s happened this season.
- Kyrie had a game-high 29 points, 3 rebounds, 10 assists and 1 steal. He got the switches he wanted on offense and that was pretty entertaining to watch. He was able to get passed Abrines at will and was able to shoot over Adams. Surprisingly, Sabonis and Singler held their own when switched on Kyrie. Sabonis has shown at times that he’s capable of having quick feet on defense when switched against smaller guards. Very impressive to see that.
- The Cavs scored 23 points off turnovers. That’s something OKC needs shore up offensively before the playoffs, the turnovers are backbreaking at times for this team.
- Tristan Thompson had a big impact tonight with 19 points, 12 rebounds, 1 assist, 4 steals and 4 blocks. 6 of his rebounds were on the offensive end.
- Cameron Payne got switched in isolation on LeBron James a few times tonight. I was nervous for him just watching it. OKC probablyyyy should’ve doubled on those plays.
- At 8:40 in the fourth quarter it as a 7-point-game. The Thunder really could’ve used The Big Turkey tonight. Hopefully this time without Kanter can be helpful for the team collectively to get more comfortable on the offensive end with each other.
Next Up: Tuesday at 7:30 against San Antonio on the road.