Fixture: Cleveland Cavaliers vs OKC Thunder | NBA Season 2020-21
Date & Time: Thursday, April 8th, 8 PM ET (Friday, 5:30 AM IST)
Venue: Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City, OK
Cleveland Cavaliers Preview
The Cleveland Cavaliers started the season on a positive note and were in the playoffs picture. Then they went on a 10-game losing streak and couldn't recover from the same. JB Bickerstaff's men were on another five-game slide recently but were able to halt it against the San Antonio Spurs in their most recent outing.
Darius Garland was the main reason why the Cleveland Cavaliers beat the Spurs 125-101 on Monday. Garland had 37 points and seven assists in a performance for the ages. The sophomore point guard is averaging 16.7 points and 5.9 assists per game this season while shooting 40% from deep.
Rookie Isaac Okoro has also been a bright spot for the Cleveland Cavaliers defensively. He's gotten going on the offensive end too, lately. Okoro has averaged 12.3 points on 76% through three games in April and will be hoping to keep his good run going against OKC Thunder.
Key Player - Collin Sexton
Collin Sexton has taken another leap this year offensively. The third-year guard leads the Cleveland Cavaliers in scoring, averaging 23.9 points and 4.2 assists per game for the season. He isn't that great on defense, but he still puts in a shift. Sexton scored 27 points on 50% shooting in the previous matchup against OKC Thunder and will be hoping to replicate that performance on Thursday.
Cleveland Cavaliers Predicted Lineup
G Darius Garland, G Collin Sexton, F Isaac Okoro, F Dean Wade, C Kevin Love
OKC Thunder Preview
OKC Thunder are currently in a downward spiral. They have won only one of their last eight matchups and are currently on a four-game losing run. The biggest reason behind this is their long list of injuries. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is weeks away from a return as he recovers from plantar fasciitis. Luguentz Dort was one of three players who missed the last matchup because of observing the league's concussion protocol.
This has allowed OKC Thunder to give their deep rotation guys a run. Recent signings Jaylen Hoard and Justin Robinson have already played two games, averaging 11.5 points and six points per game respectively.
Theo Maledon is enjoying an increase in playing time in the absence of other point guards. He scored 25 points last night against the Charlotte Hornets on 50% shooting and also had five assists. Maledon will be the lead ball-handler for OKC Thunder against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Key Player - Aleksej Pokusevski
Last night, Aleksej Pokusevski became the second-youngest player in OKC Thunder history to score 25 points. The 19-year-old rookie has been on a roll lately, averaging 18.6 points, 5.2 rebounds and 2.8 assists in the last five games. Very few players sized 7 feet can dribble and pass the ball as Pokusevski does. He didn't feature in the previous game against the Cleveland Cavaliers and will be hoping to catch them by surprise.
OKC Thunder Predicted Lineup
G Theo Maledon, G Luguentz Dort, F Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, F Aleksej Pokusevski, C Moses Brown
Cavaliers vs Thunder Match Prediction
Both the Cleveland Cavaliers and OKC Thunder are rebuilding right now and it's difficult to put an estimate on how the two teams will perform on any given night. The Cavs at least have their main crew of Sexton, Garland and Okoro featuring regularly. In comparison, the Thunder are playing extremely experimental lineups in the wake of excessive injuries and are unlikely to have any continuity on the court. Expect the Cavs to win this tie.
Where to watch Cavaliers vs Thunder?
Local coverage of this matchup will be available on Bally Sports Ohio and Bally Sports Oklahoma. You can also live stream the same via the NBA League Pass.