After a few underwhelming outings on Sunday and Monday at the Golden State Warriors and Sacramento Kings (even in a win), the Cleveland Cavaliers rebounded with big W’s at the Utah Jazz and San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday and Friday.
The Jazz were without the likes of Rudy Gobert though, along with Rudy Gay and Hassan Whiteside, from a rotational standpoint, because of COVID-19 health and safety protocols. The Spurs were mostly healthy, however, and it was nice to see the Cavaliers take care of business, generally, in both games.
The Wine and Gold will be looking to wrap up their six-game Western road trip on a high note as well, with the Oklahoma City Thunder on deck on Saturday. The Thunder are amid a full-rebuild, but do have some very promising young pieces, and one of the more impressive rookies from this class in Josh Giddey.
So, what do you have to know about this Cavs-Thunder matchup, and how to bet?
As we noted, the Cavs are starting to get themselves right again, and while they’re reportedly still seeking backcourt help via trade, it has been encouraging to see what Lamar Stevens, who was more so a frontcourt player in college, has done in filling in with Isaac Okoro out.
Stevens has had career-highs in points in two of the past four games for Cleveland as an interim starting 2, and combined with his defense, he’s been one of the big reasons why the Cavs have gotten back on track.
The Cavaliers bigs have rebounded after a lackluster performance at Golden State on Sunday, also, which has been nice to see.
On the flip side, the Thunder have lost 5 of 6 games, but Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has provided his share of production, Giddey himself has come on, and Aaron Wiggins has been solid on both ends of the floor. For OKC’s bench, Ty Jerome is doing a decent job as a playmaker there, even with some shooting woes, and as KJG’s Justin Brownlow expressed, second-rounder Jeremiah Robinson-Earl has been a bright spot as well.
And for context, the Thunder have generally been close in these last few weeks in their games, aside from a blowout L to the Minnesota Timberwolves, and the Thunder did win at the Brooklyn Nets in their last game by 21. Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving (it was a home game) were not active, though.
Cavs-Thunder: Odds, spread and over/under
According to our partners at WynnBet, the Cavs are favored by 4.5 over the Thunder here, with the over/under set for 210.0.
For Cleveland, the over/under is set for 107.5, whereas for the Thunder, it’s for 102.5. This is a far lower over/under, in relation to both teams, for a Cavaliers game as opposed to plenty of others lately.
Cavs-Thunder: Projected starters and injury report
Thunder starters: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Josh Giddey, Lu Dort, Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, Derrick Favors
Thunder injuries/absences: Kenrich Williams and Isaiah Roby (out, COVID-19 health and safety protocols); Vit Krejci, Aleksej Pokusevski and Olivier Sarr (out, G League assignment).
Cavs injuries: Collin Sexton (out for season, knee); Ricky Rubio (out for season, knee); Isaac Okoro (probable, elbow); Rajon Rondo (questionable, hamstring).
The Thunder have been pretty respectable on the defensive end throughout this season, and have been marginally better than the Cavs in this last 10 games. Cleveland has been in the middle of the pack essentially there in that span of contests.
The difference here, however, is that for the Cavs, there’s just more shooting options, and the bigs active in this one that is, are more mobile than OKC’s bigs. I’d expect them to go with a bigger starting unit here in starting Derrick Favors, and Robinson-Earl getting the Evan Mobley assignment for much of the game seems logical.
In this one, while I would expect Lu Dort to get some transition opportunities to go, and Giddey and Gilgeous-Alexander will make plays, with Giddey I could foresee being more of a lead playmaker here, the Thunder will have issues in set offense.
OKC has the second-lowest offensive rating in the league, and I do believe it’ll hurt them to not have Roby and Williams, from a depth perspective and for defense, here, with them both in health and safety protocols.
And conversely, I’d expect Isaac Okoro to look more comfortable, and for Kevin Love, who has been off in his reserve minutes on this road trip, to rebound as a scorer. I’d imagine Darius Garland will get better as games progress as well, as he’s generally done consistently, for what it’s worth.
Prediction: Cavs 107, Thunder 98
The Bet: Cavs (-4.5), UNDER
Cavaliers-Thunder: Where to watch
For fans subscribed, this one will be on Bally Sports Ohio, and likely on the other side of the coin, Bally Sports Oklahoma, Bally Sports Kansas City, Bally Sports Midwest and Bally Sports Southwest will have it.
And/or streaming via NBA League Pass will do the right trick, aside from those options.
Cavs upcoming schedule:
After this OKC game, the Cavs will return home to take on the Nets in an afternoon contest on MLK Day, followed up by them being at the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday. That game should be much different with Chicago having a number of key cogs back, as opposed to the first meeting between those two teams, when Chicago was dealing with COVID-19-related issues.
From there, Cleveland will face the Thunder once again on Saturday, then being at home, wrapping up their two contests this season.