Cleveland Cavaliers at Oklahoma City Thunder (-2.5, 204.5 o/u)
Going into the season it was obvious the Oklahoma City Thunder (8-13, 5-5 home) were going to struggle without injured stars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. And struggle they did, going 3-12 without their “Big 2″. Just as predicted, with both all-stars back in action, the team has been better, winning five of six games.
“We’re still trying to work some things out,” said Durant, last year’s NBA MVP. “You know, I’m sure a lot of people are expecting us to be back to playoff-type of basketball right now, but we’re just like any other team, just trying to continue to just build and keep getting better.”
Durant, who was out due to a foot injury, has found his mojo scoring 23 points in Tuesday’s win over Milwaukee. As for Westbrook, who had a hand injury, he’s averaging 26 points a game since returning to the court.
Said Westbrook about Durant, “He’s getting back into rhythm. He’s getting back in the swing of things.”
Next up for OKC is LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers (13-7, 6-3 away) which should provide the Thunder with a good measuring stick for their progress. While James and company struggled early on, the team has coalesced of late with impressive wins over the Eastern Conference-leading Toronto Raptors.
“I said it would take us a couple months, maybe even a few to kind of hit our stride,” James said. “But I don’t really get too high or too low, I kinda stay even keel, it’s such a long season. As fast as you can win five or six in a row, you can lose five or six in a row. It’s a process of getting better every day and taking on the next challenge.”
Overall, the Cavs have an eight-game win streak that will be tested tonight against the tough Thunder.
“I haven’t had an opportunity to watch them, for some odd reason it seems we’ve played every time they’ve played,” said James. “Obviously they got two of the best players in our league on one team, so they’re very, very powerful at any time.”
Despite the Cavs’ boasting the new “Big 3”, look for OKC to take this game, which means laying the points (-2) is the play.
(Photo credit: Keith Allison (Flickr: Kevin Durant) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.)