Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#565 Cleveland Cavaliers vs.
#566 Oklahoma City Thunder
Thursday, April 8, 2021 at 8:05pm EDT
Chesapeake Enery Arena, Oklahoma City
Written by Chris Kubala

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It’s an interconference battle of teams outside their respective playoff pictures down in the Sooner State. The Cleveland Cavaliers are on the road as they make the trip to face the Oklahoma City Thunder Thursday night. Cleveland clubbed San Antonio 125-101 on the road Monday night in their previous contest. Oklahoma City was at home Wednesday night as they hosted the Hornets in the front half of a back-to-back set: they were knocked off 113-102 in that one. In the all-time regular-season series, the Thunder owns a 68-48 advantage and have won the last five meetings. That includes a 117-101 road triumph in the lone meeting this season back on February 21.

Cleveland Cavaliers Seek Second Straight Road Win

Cleveland snapped a five-game skid as they took care of business on the road against the Spurs in their previous contest. The Cavaliers entered Wednesday fourth in the Central Division, 14 games the division-leading Bucks for the top spot. In the Eastern Conference playoff picture, the team was 12th, 3.5 games behind the 10th-place Bulls for the final playoff spot in the play-in tournament. Cleveland used a 24-14 burst over the final 10 minutes of the first half to take a 57-47 halftime edge and didn’t let the Spurs closer than eight the rest of the way. The Cavaliers led by as many as 32 in the second half as they coasted to the victory. Cleveland shot 52.3% from the field, including 12 of 34 from three-point range, and controlled the boards 47-38. Darius Garland led the Cavaliers with 37 points and seven assists in the victory.

The Cavaliers come into this one ranked 30th in the league in scoring offense as they put up an average of 103.1 points per game this season. Cleveland is 23rd in rebounding as they grab 42.9 boards per contest and stand 22nd in assists by handing out 23.3 dimes a contest this year. The Cavaliers are 11th in the league in scoring defense as they allow an average of 111 points per game this season. Collin Sexton leads the team with 23.9 points per game this season. Darius Garland (16.7 points, 5.9 assists), Cedi Osman (9.7 points) and Larry Nance Jr. (10.1 points, 7.1 rebounds) are solid offensive options. Kevin Love, Isaac Okoro, Damyean Dotson, Isaiah Hartenstein, JaVale McGee, Taurean Prince and Jarrett Allen (13.1 points, 9.9 rebounds) are other contributors in the Cavaliers’ rotation. Cleveland is 23rd in the league in field goal percentage as they shoot 45% from the floor as a team on the year. The Cavaliers are 30th by knocking down an average of 9.4 three-pointers a night while they are 29th by connecting on 33.5% of their attempts from beyond the arc. Allen (concussion), Nance Jr. (illness) and Dylan Windler (knee) all missed Monday’s contest and will need to be monitored here.

Oklahoma City Thunder Close Back-to-Back Set

Oklahoma City was in action at home against Charlotte on Wednesday night so they close a back-to-back set here. The Thunder entered Tuesday fourth in the Northwest Division, 18 games behind the Jazz for the top spot. In the Western Conference playoff picture, the team is 13th, 3.5 games behind the Warriors for the final play-in spot in the postseason field. Oklahoma City is 5-6 in the second game of back-to-back situations this season as they average 107.8 points per game while allowing 118.4 points per contest in those outings. The Thunder are 9-16 at home with a -9 ppg scoring margin (107.2 ppg for, 116.2 ppg against) this season. Oklahoma City stands 9-10 against Eastern Conference teams with a -6.2 ppg scoring margin (106.9 ppg for, 113.1 ppg against) in those contests.

The Thunder comes into this contest a dismal 27th in the league in scoring offense with 106.1 points per game. Oklahoma City stands 11th in rebounding with 44.7 boards a night while they are 26th in assists by dishing out 22.7 dimes per contest. The Thunder is 18th in scoring defense as they allow an average of 112.3 points a night. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander leads the team with 23.7 points, 4.7 rebounds and 5.9 assists a night this season. Luguentz Dort puts up 12.3 points a night and Isaiah Roby chips in 8.9 points plus 5.7 boards a contest. Mike Muscala (9.7 points) and Al Horford (14.2 points, 6.7 rebounds) are solid contributors offensively as well. Darius Bazley (11.9 points), Ty Jerome, Justin Jackson, Svi Mykhailiuk and Kenrich Williams have to contribute for the team to have success. Oklahoma City is 23rd in field goal percentage as they shoot 44.8% from the floor as a team on the year. The Thunder is 14th by knocking down an average of 12.8 three-pointers a night while they are 24th in three-point shooting as they knock down 34.8% of their attempts on the year. Muscala (ankle), Gilgeous-Alexander (foot), Dort (concussion protocol), Roby (concussion) and Bazley (shoulder) were all out Monday and have to be monitored here. Horford is going to be inactive the rest of the season as the team gives more time to their young players.

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This one is going to be a challenge for the Thunder, who not only are playing the second game of a back-to-back situation here. In addition, Oklahoma City has a lot of walking wounded to deal with in their rotation with several of their key contributors either questionable or out for this contest. While Cleveland has struggled for long stretches this season, they are rested and coming off a blowout road win over San Antonio in their last contest. The Cavaliers are relatively healthy, however, and they have their top options to put on the floor in this contest. Thatโ€™s enough to tilt the scales in favor of Cleveland in this one.

Prediction: Cleveland Cavaliers -2

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Cleveland stands just 25th in tempo with 97.4 possessions a game on the year. Sexton and Garland have spearheaded the charge of late and they can carry the load. Oklahoma City is 8th in the league in tempo as they average 100.3 possessions per game this year. The Thunder doesnโ€™t do a ton offensively this season despite their tempo this season. Without Horford along with the potential missing pieces of Dort, Gilgeous-Alexander and Bazley, points could be even harder to come by. With both teams on the outside looking in for the postseason, this one inevitably ends up falling short of the total.

Prediction: Under 212.5
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Written By Chris Kubala , "Chris Kubala"

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