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2012-2013 Game 47 Preview: Thunder Get West Break Vs. Cavaliers

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The Thunder will finally get a break from the Western rat race tonight against one of those Eastern Conference cellar dwellers, the Cleveland Cavaliers. But if they don't take care of the ball, the Cavs could produce an upset in Quicken Loans.

With a gazelle-like stride.
With a gazelle-like stride.

2012-2013 NBA Season
The Oklahoma City Thunder (35-11)
The Cleveland Cavaliers (13-34)
February 2nd, 2013
Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland, Ohio
6:30 PM CST
Fox Sports Network Oklahoma, Fox Sports Network Ohio
WWLS the Sports Animal (98.1), NewsRadio WTAM 1100 Cleveland
Enemy Blogs: Fear The Sword, Cavs: The Blog, Stepien Rules
Previous Meetings: Nov 11th (Thunder Lead Season Series 1-0)
Injury Report: Anderson Varejao (Out), Luke Walton (Day to Day), Daniel Gibson (Out)
Probable Starters
Russell Westbrook PG Kyrie Irving
Thabo Sefolosha SG Dion Waiters
Kevin Durant SF Alonzo Gee
Serge Ibaka PF Tristan Thompson
Kendrick Perkins C Tyler Zeller

It's undeniable that the Western conference is tough. Even the teams scraping the bottom of the barrel have some legitimate talent, and almost all of them still have some delusions of greatness. The East, however, is a completely different story. There's about 9 teams with at least some chance of getting into the playoffs, and then there's 6 teams that are absolute garbage. Yes, they're still professional basketball teams and still have chances of beating the best, but they mostly beat up on each other and don't really have much hope of the playoffs. (Aside from maybe the rejuvenated Raptors.)

In any case, the Thunder will finally get a break from the Western rat race tonight against one of those Eastern Conference cellar dwellers, the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Cavs are a team with a supposedly bright future, as they've made the proper steps towards rebuilding, have a supposedly bright star in Kyrie Irving, and a lot of prospects that could go either way.

In the Thunder's last matchup with the Cavs, they were able to destroy them in the post because the only real big they had coming off of the bench was Jon Leuer, and they'd often go small. Now, Anderson Varejao is injured, and they have Tyler Zeller starting and Marreese Speights coming off of the bench. In other words, the situation isn't much different. The Cavs are going to have to go small at some point, and their penetration defense is going to suffer.

But, the Cavaliers can definitely win this game. Part of the Thunder's strategy was to run the floor, which they're normally good at. But while they were trying to push the pace, the Cavaliers took advantage of their sloppiness. They also have the tools on the perimeter to take advantage of Kevin Martin's terrible defense, as well as the Thunder's jumpy pressure D.

I have confidence in the Thunder's ability to sweep this series though. The Cavaliers were just destroyed by Detroit and are on the second night of a back-to-back. It's rare that they'll win against a high-scoring team, and when they do, they're shooting spectacularly from the field. Their ability to get to the line, rebound the ball, or control possession is usually poor to average, and they usually don't move the ball enough to shoot high percentages, finishing second to last in the NBA in assists. So really, in a lot of ways, Cleveland is a crapshoot. Knock on wood.

Prediction: Oklahoma City Thunder 111, Cleveland Cavaliers 96.

If you are looking for tickets to upcoming games, you can find Oklahoma City Thunder tickets here.