The Oklahoma City Thunder take on the Cleveland Cavaliers on Thursday, a game that will heavily impact the teams’ lottery odds. The Thunder is a game and a half back of the Cavs on Tankathon for the fifth-best NBA Draft Lottery Odds.
The Thunder will be without Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (foot), Darius Miller (Groin), Darius Bazley (Shoulder), Isaiah Roby (Concussion), Lu Dort (Concussion), Josh Hall (Concussion), and Mike Muscala (Ankle). Aleksej Pokusevski, who left the previous game early due to a hip injury, is not listed on the injury report signaling he is healthy and ready to go in this contest.
The OKC Thunder will look for another massive performance from rookie Aleksej Pokusevski in this contest, who set the Thunder franchise record for 3-pointers made in a single game as a rookie on Wednesday.
Theo Maledon, who also turned in a solid game on Wednesday, will get a big test on Thursday against the Cavs backcourt of Collin Sexton and Darius Garland.
The Thunder are three and a half point underdogs in this contest, after being blown out for the better part of a week capped off with yet another double-digit loss yesterday. I am taking the Cavs to cover in this game, despite their poor record, this is not the standard “rollover” tanking team. With OKC’s injuries, it will be an uphill battle. The Moneyball pick of the day is Theo Maledon to have a huge night from beyond the arc.
The Cavs will miss Jarrett Allen (Concussion), Larry Nance Jr. (illness), and Dylan Windler (knee soreness) in this contest.
Mark Daigneault mentions pregame that the Thunder have to play with a level of “alertness” against the Cavs, who have an “aggressive” backcourt. Sexton will always play downhill, looking for a chance to get his buckets, and that will offer a measuring stick game for Maledon’s defense. The Thunder rookie has shown flashes of brilliance on the defensive end of the floor, as the primary and starting guard, this will be one of his biggest tests of the season. There is no safety net for Maledon today, the Cavs backcourt is his responsibility.