GAMEDAY PREVIEW: Thunder Face LeBron's Cavaliers

Thursday, December 17th 2015, 5:34 pm
By: Brett Coppenbarger

There are only two times a season that we get to see the two best players in the world square off on the same court, and tonight is one of those nights. The Oklahoma City Thunder (17-8) are in Cleveland to face the Cavaliers (16-7) in a game that will be featured on TNT at 7 p.m.

Along with this game showcasing two NBA heavyweights, both LeBron James and Kevin Durant will be able to flex their muscles on a national stage and amaze everyone who’s watching.

Will the Thunder’s dominant defense continue?

During this six-game winning streak, the Thunder have held all teams under 100 points and have forced teams to shoot a staggering 40-percent clip from the field. OKC is getting the job done on the defensive end, and that in turn is translating into wins.

The defensive dominance is nice, but let’s remember the only solid team the Thunder beat over this streak was the Grizzlies, who currently hold a 14-13 record. The point is, the Cavaliers are a whole other animal, and slowing down the likes of LeBron James and Kevin Love will be no easy task.  

No swerving for Irving

There were reports that emerged over the week that Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving would make his season debut on Thursday night against the Thunder, but those rumors were shot down quickly by Irving himself via twitter:

Clearly that’s an advantage for the Thunder, who won’t have to face an all-star caliber point guard, but the Cavs have other players that can fill in the role. Mo Williams has been starting in Irving’s place this season, but he may be out tonight as well due to a sprained thumb.

That would leave last year’s NBA Final’s sweetheart Matthew Dellavedova to start at point, and that wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing for the Cavs. Delly is known as a hustle player, and that could be useful when attempting to guard Russell Westbrook.

Former Bruins clash

Along with the Durant vs James matchup, this game will also feature a battle between two former college roommates at UCLA in Westbrook and Love. The duo starred on the 2007-08 UCLA Final Four team, and have now gone on to be among the league’s elite.

Both players have plenty of respect for each other, and Love has also been on record pronouncing Westbrook as a top-five player in the NBA.