Cleveland Cavaliers (16-7)
@ Oklahoma City Thunder (12-9)
Ford Center, Oklahoma City, OK
7:00 PM EST FSN, WTAM 1100-AM
The Cavaliers look to collect another W tonight on the road against the suddenly above average Thunder in Oklahoma City. Still weird to consider there is a basketball franchise in that state, but it is definitely acceptable to refer to them as the Zombie Sonics, as popularized by ESPN’s Bill Simmons. Kevin Durant is absolutely tearing it up yet again this season for them, averaging 28.3 points per game while Russell Westbrook, Jeff Green and James Harden represent a very young and productive core overall. This will not be a given for the Cavs and they need to recapture some of their fire and intensity from a few weeks back.
As mentioned on various sites today, Shaquille O’Neal is questionable today with his eye bruise that he suffered in the contest against Portland on Friday. Without the Big Aristotle in the middle, it will be important for the road team to constantly find positive matches against the quicker Thunder rotation. We should see plenty of Andy/LeBron at the 5/4 today along with significant minutes for forward/guards like Jamario Moon and Anthony Parker. Oklahoma is getting better by the day but the Cavs still have the firepower offensively to match up with everyone, and with Shaq possibly out it will be vital to out-hustle the young Thunder. INJURY UPDATE: Brian Windhorst tweets that Shaq will play while Boobie Gibson will sit a second straight game with his finger injury.
Leave your thoughts on tonight’s game here in the comment section. Look back to my article earlier in the day today for a brief description of the team’s December schedule. This is an important game to focus on for the Cavaliers if they do intend to be a championship contender in 2009-2010. A loss here tonight would possibly be more devastating than the back-to-back defeats against Memphis and Houston earlier in the week.
Jacob Rosen is a long-time contributor to WaitingForNextYear. He's also a writer online at SportsAnalyticsBlog and Nylon Calculus . An Akron native, Jacob is a current MBA student at the University of Oregon's Warsaw Sports Marketing Center. You can follow him on Twitter @WFNYJacob or e-mail him at udjrosen(at)gmail(dot)com.