A pair of teams with high expectations meet in the Sooner State on the hardwood in inter-conference action. The Cleveland Cavaliers are on the road as they visit the Oklahoma City Thunder Tuesday night. Cleveland won their third straight as they rolled to a 121-99 win over the Celtics on the road Sunday afternoon. Oklahoma City won for just the second time in seven games as they whipped the Grizzlies 110-92 at home Sunday night. The Thunder holds a 63-47 advantage in the all-time regular season series and has won two straight meetings, including a 148-124 road win in the first matchup this season January 20.
Cleveland Cavaliers Shoot for Fourth Straight Victory
Cleveland’s new look rotation debuted on Sunday and it was a rousing start for the group as they rolled over Boston to earn their third straight victory. It will take a lot more than one game for the Cavaliers to prove that the changes will work long term but they at least were proactive at the trade deadline. Cleveland took control by outscoring Boston 64-42 in the middle two quarters as they shut Boston down: the Celtics scored 32 in the first quarter but just 67 over the final three. The Cavaliers shot 53.6 percent from the field overall and hit 16 of their 30 three point attempts. LeBron James led Cleveland with 24 points, eight rebounds and 10 assists in the win.
The Cavaliers are 5th in the league in scoring this season with 110 points per game. Cleveland is 22nd in rebounding with 41.7 caroms a night while the team stands 8th with 23.6 assists per contest. The Cavaliers are below average defensively, ranking tied for 27th in scoring defense by allowing 109.9 points per game. LeBron James averages a team high 26.3 points while collecting 8.1 boards and dishing 8.9 assists per game while Kevin Love is good for 17.9 points plus 9.4 boards per contest but is out after he fractured his hand in the first quarter of the game against the Pistons on January 30. Jeff Green averages 10.7 points per contest while Jordan Clarkson (14.6 points) will slot into a backcourt role. J.R. Smith, Kyle Korver (9.4 points), George Hill, Rodney Hood (16.8 points), Larry Nance Jr. and Tristan Thompson are some of the rotation guys that can step up and have a big game. Cleveland is 6th in the league by shooting 47.4 percent from the field. The Cavaliers are 2nd in the league in made threes with 12.1 triples a night while ranking tied for 9th in three point shooting by shooting 36.8 percent from downtown.
Oklahoma City Thunder Hopes to Earn Back to Back Wins
Oklahoma City had dropped five of six before coming up on the right side of a rout over Memphis. The Thunder entered Monday two games behind Minnesota in the Northwest Division and look to cut their deficit. Oklahoma City put this one away early as they jumped to a 17 point lead after the opening quarter and didn’t look back in the contest. The Thunder shot 44.2 percent from the field, including 16 of 43 from three point range, to overcome missing 14 of 40 free throw attempts. Paul George had 33 points and eight assists to lead Oklahoma City in the win.
The Thunder is mediocre offensively this season as they are 13th with an average of 106.2 points per game. Oklahoma City is 5th in the league in rebounding with 44.8 boards per contest. The Thunder is 26th in assists with 21 per game. Oklahoma City is 6th in the league in scoring defense as they allow 102.7 points a night. Carmelo Anthony is third on the Thunder with 17 points plus six boards a night. Russell Westbrook contributes a team leading 25.5 points, 9.3 rebounds, 10.3 assists and 1.96 steals per game. Paul George adds 22.4 points plus 5.4 boards and 2.24 steals a contest and Steven Adams chips in 13.8 points plus nine boards a night. Jerian Grant, Terrance Ferguson, Andre Roberson, Raymond Felton, Alex Abrines and Patrick Patterson have to make their presence known on both ends. Roberson is done for the season after rupturing his patellar tendon on January 27. Oklahoma City is tied for 18th in the league in field goal percentage as the team shoots 45.3 percent from the floor. The Thunder is tied for 16th with 10.3 made threes per game and stands tied for 26th in three point shooting at 34.9 percent.
- Cavaliers are 1-5 ATS in their last 6 Tuesday games
- Cavaliers are 1-7 ATS in their last 8 road games vs. a team with a home winning % of greater than .600
- Cavaliers are 1-9 ATS in their last 10 road games vs. a team with a winning home record
- Thunder are 10-2 ATS in their last 12 vs. NBA Central
The Cavaliers looked sharp in their win over Boston but it remains to be seen just how effectively all the pieces will mesh. George Hill said that the new players all have to be Robin to LeBron’s Batman: can they all handle being second banana? Oklahoma City had an easy time with Memphis despite being minus two-thirds of their star triumvirate. If they get those guys back for this one, which is a possibility, the Thunder should take advantage here. Even if one or both are missing, Cleveland has to show consistency in order to be taken seriously: look for Oklahoma City to prevail at home.
Pick: Oklahoma City Thunder
Oklahoma City is battling here but they have to hope that they’ll be close to full strength. Both Anthony and Westbrook missed the game against Memphis with sprained ankles but the Thunder will need all hands on deck to take out Cleveland. The Cavaliers had a good showing in their first game with the new group but the question remains if the moves were a cure for what ails the team or just a temporary patch. It was a solid starting point, but can Cleveland’s new group continue that sort of play for an extended period as they gear up for a potential postseason run?
The Cavaliers have seen the over go 4-0 in their last four games against Northwest Division foes, 4-0 in their last 4 games following a ATS win, 4-0 in their last 4 road games vs. a team with a home winning % of greater than .600 and 6-1 in their last 7 games following a straight up win. Oklahoma City has seen the over go 5-1 in their last six against Eastern Conference foes and 4-1 in their last five after a straight up win by at least 10 points. These teams obliterated the over in their first meeting: if Westbrook and Anthony take the floor in this one, they likely exceed the total again here.