Last night’s matchup was much different then when the Cavs and Thunder met in Cleveland on January 20th.
It was a brisk Saturday on the shores of Lake Erie when OKC looked unstoppable. The Thunder shot 58% that fateful day. Paul George had 36, while Russ, Melo, and Steven Adams all scored 23+ plus points. The Cavs shot 27% from beyond the arc, and all was right in the world ... then Koby Altman pulled the plug.
Tuesday night was a tad bit different. Cleveland’s newly reformed roster looked sharp from beginning to end in round two, as LeBron had 37 points and J.R. Smith chipped in 18 to stay hot. The Cavs hit 16 threes and had four bench players in double figures. Or you could just take the route of simplicity with Russ:
Russell Westbrook asked what differences he saw in this Cavs team versus the one OKC dropped 148 on three weeks ago: “They won this time, and we won last time.”— Royce Young (@royceyoung) February 14, 2018
Russell Westbrook, Paul George, Carmelo Anthony, and Steven Adams combined for 92 points last night. The rest of the Thunder had 20.
It was a multitude of things that hurt OKC. Was it LeBron dropping 37? How about Cleveland’s 16 threes? Or their 51 bench points compared to the Thunder’s 20? It could really be any of these factors. But in the end, it was the little things that kept OKC from getting over the hump.
Cleveland had 16 second-chance points on Tuesday, many of which were a product of their energetic and active bench. Guys like Larry Nance (13p, 9r) and Jordan Clarkson (14p) provided a tremendous spark when the Cavs needed it, and beat the Thunder to loose balls and rebounds in key situations.
A lot of what occurred last night was thanks to Cleveland doing all the right things, rather than OKC exhibiting major flaws, so let’s not get carried away after this loss. Credit to the new-look Cavs. I’d be concerned if I were the rest of the Eastern Conference.
- Westbrook looked a little rusty last night after missing two straight games. He did have 21-7-12, but he wasn’t his normal, sharp self for the majority of this one.
- Steven Adams finished with 12 offensive rebounds (17 total and 22 points), which is a Thunder record.
- George led the way with 25 points, followed by Anthony with 24 (10/22 FG).
- Cleveland was 16/36 from deep.
- Melo shared his thoughts on the post-break Thunder:
Melo on heading into the All-Star break: “Once we come back, it’s showtime now. It’s time to gear up.”— Royce Young (@royceyoung) February 14, 2018
I wonder if he knows they still have one game left tonight.
- Russ said his knee “felt great” last night. That was about all he gave in terms of injury-related answers.
A Look Ahead
OKC concludes the first half of their season tonight in Memphis. They defeated the Grizzlies by 18 points this past Sunday.