Records: The Cleveland Cavaliers (14-23) at The Oklahoma City Thunder (31-8)
Time: 7:00 PM Central Standard Time
Place: Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Radio: WWLS The Sports Animal (98.1), ESPN 103.3 KESN-FM
Enemy Blog(s): Fear the Sword, Cavs the Blog
Previous Results: None. Last Season: Dec. 12, March 12 (Thunder won series 2-0)
The Cavs are in town tonight to take on the Thunder. Cleveland is coming off of a big win against the Nuggets, while the Thunder most recently survived the adventure of tussling with the Suns for four quarters. The Cavaliers had a long way back to respectability after last season's abysmal post-LeBron 19-63 record, and even though they have a losing record, they are making strides. Most notably, along with Denver, the Cavs have taken down the Clippers, Mavericks, and Pacers since the beginning of February.
The key cog in Cleveland's attack is their rookie point guard Kyrie Irving. He is proving to be a worthy top draft pick who wants to lead the team to victories. His late game drive against the Nuggets demonstrated how Irving does not shrink from the moment and wants to have the ball in his hands when the game is on the line. He is going to have his mettle tested tonight as he matches up against All-Star Russell Westbrook, who loves the air of a good match-up. Westbrook is going to look to challenge Irving, and while Westbrook certainly has the talent to do it, his task is going to be to remain within the defensive structure and not overplay the ball, which has a way of ending up in lay-ups for other teams.
The Thunder look to have a big advantage on the boards tonight, as the Cavs are still missing Anderson Varejao from the lineup. OKC will need to maintain their focus in this particular area; they have a tendency to abandon their fundamentals when they don't take their opponent as seriously as they ought. If the Thunder get lazy on the boards, or if they try to get too clever in their defensive pursuits, a disciplined and committed Cavs team could make this game close in the end.
Prediction: Thunder 101, Cavaliers 90