Last year, the Oklahoma City Thunder were the second best team in the NBA, only being denied glory by LeBron James and the Heat. Their core of Kevin Durant, James Harden and Russell Westbrook proved to not only be oozing with potential, but also ready to compete for titles right now. And in case you forgot, last year’s version of the Cleveland Cavaliers beat that team.
Led by Antawn Jamison’s 21 points and late heroics from Kyrie Irving, the Cavaliers beat Oklahoma City 96-90. At the time, the victory was the Cavaliers 15th win overall and 7th overall on the road. It also added to the growing mystique of Irving, who in the night before, hit a game winner against the Denver Nuggets to break a six game slide for the Cavaliers.
In the entirety of the Cavaliers season, the victory did not mean much. They went on to implode, as Kyrie Irving ended up joining Anderson Varejao on the shelf due to injury. But it was a high point that showed that the Cavaliers were capable of beating quality teams when everything clicks. The Thunder, on the other hand, went on to win the West, but ultimately fell short against Miami. This rematch of sorts takes place Sunday, November 11th in Oklahoma City. Tip off is at 7:00 PM and it airs live on Fox Sports Ohio, as well as on WTAM 1100.
The Thunder and Cavaliers are both different teams than they were last year. The Thunder made the biggest trade of the offseason, trading James Harden to the Thunder for a combination of players and picks. The overall impact of the trade over the course of the season is yet to be seen, but my hunch is that, down the stretch, it is going to affect them. Harden, at times, became their fourth quarter clutch shooter when Durant would be double-teamed and Russell Westbrook forgot how to shoot.
Luckily for Oklahoma City, the Cavaliers are not a team that this should really affect. Westbrook and Irving will cancel each other out and Durant should outplay Gee easily. The Cavaliers one chance at victory is Dion Waiters completely owning Kevin Martin, having the game of his career, while Varejao, Thompson and company dominate the rebounding. And while I think Waiters will outperform Martin handily, I think Durant is going to go off, and take Oklahoma City to victory. It’s going to be another loss on this road trip for the Cavaliers.
- Cavaliers Leading Scorer – Kyrie Irving, 23.3 points per game
- Thunder Leading Scorer – Kevin Durant, 22.0 points per game
- Cavaliers leading rebounder – Anderson Varejao, 14.0 rebounds per game
- Thunder leading rebounder – Durant, 11.0 rebounds per game
- Cavaliers Field Goal Percentage – 44.4 percent
- Thunder Field Goal Percentage – 47.5 percent
- Cavaliers Three Point Percentage – 39.9 percent
- Thunder Three Point Percentage – 40.6 percent
- Cavalier who gets too many minutes – Donald Sloan, 10.7 minutes per game
- Thunder who gets too many minutes – Hasheem Thabeet, 13.6 minutes per game