Nick Gallo previews tonight’s Thunder/Cavs match-up: “A few weeks ago, the Thunder hung 148 points on the Cleveland Cavaliers up in northeast Ohio in a dominant road win. Just days after the NBA’s trade deadline, it’ll be a drastically different Cavaliers team that travels into Oklahoma City to square off with the Thunder. No more on the roster are Isaiah Thomas, Derrick Rose, Dwyane Wade, Jae Crowder, Iman Shumpert and Channing Frye. In their place, a new starter at point guard in George Hill, and three skilled young veterans off the bench in Rodney Hood, Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr. Surrounding LeBron James with that kind of verve and energy proved to be a major positive in the Cavaliers’ first game together as newly assembled, a 121-99 road win in Boston.”
Cavs.com previews the game from the other side: “Even with Sunday’s route of the Celtics, the new-look Cavaliers will still need more time to mesh, and the Thunder will undoubtedly be a good test for Cleveland. OKC, who had a mediocre start to their 2017-18 campaign (15-15 through December 18), have recently turned things up a notch, going on a 10-5 in their last 15 games, tallying an eight-game winning streak from January 13 to January 28. Led by an outstanding starting five, which includes 2018 All-Stars Paul George and Russell Westbrook, the Thunder are starting to improve heading into the Break. So far in 2018, the starters helped lead their club to some big-time wins, including a 125-105 blowout over the defending NBA Champion Golden State Warriors last Tuesday.”
Moke Hamilton (USA Today) with Paul George’s comments on the new-look Cavs: “Same approach, make it tough on LeBron,” George said. “He’s got more shooters and some veterans there, but I think it’s going to take those guys a little bit to kind of adjust and find their way through the chemistry.”
Erik Horne on the status of Russell Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony: “Russell Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony were each full participants in the Thunder’s practice on Monday. With the Thunder set to play Cleveland and Memphis on consecutive nights before the All-Star break, coach Billy Donovan said practice was heavy on non-contact Monday, but that Westbrook and Anthony were each available… Donovan said he hasn’t had conversations with Westbrook, Anthony or the medical staff about their availability for Tuesday.”
Brett Dawson on the Thunder’s fluid approach to shooting guard: “Ferguson has shown flashes at both ends, but he’s an inconsistent defender and streaky shooter, a 19-year-old still trying to find his footing in the NBA. In his 204 minutes playing with the standard starting four, opponents have outscored the Thunder by an average of 11.3 points per 100 possessions. The starters have outscored opponents by 2.4 points per 100 possessions with Abrines on the court and by 11.3 sharing the floor with Huestis, though the latter number comes in a small 75-minute sample size. With no obvious choice as a shooting-guard starter, Donovan might continue with a flexible five.”
Baxter Holmes (ESPN) on Melo, LeBron, and the NBA’s secret wine society: “Here’s a story,” Anthony begins, sitting in the Thunder’s practice facility on a chilly December morning. A few years ago, maybe 2014, he attended a dinner at the home of one of the East Coast’s biggest collectors, along with about 80 others, all well versed in vino, and everyone was asked to bring his or her very best bottle. Oh my god, Anthony thought to himself. I don’t want to be “that guy.” Because I know those guys are coming with ’50s, ’60s, ’70s. They’d go deep into their cellars, bringing the heat. Then it hit him: champagne. Always classy, always a safe bet. So he brought a Dom Pérignon Brut Rosé magnum, late 1990s. At the end of the night, there was a contest to select the best bottle. And? Anthony grins now. He placed in the top three.”
Steven Adams did a fun interview with Fox Sports Oklahoma:
Around the League: The Warriors’ players coached last night’s game…. Coach Pop spoke on the importance of Black History Month…. TJ McConnell dropped a triple-double off the bench for Philly…. Is Trae Young the first of many Steph Curry clones?