Oklahoma City Thunder vs Cleveland Cavaliers 1/22/22: Starting Lineups, Matchup Preview, Betting Odds, Live Stream

Oklahoma City Thunder vs Cleveland Cavaliers Matchup Preview (1/22/22)

The Oklahoma City Thunder travel Saturday night to face Darius Garland and the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Thunder have won only a single game in January, and that was against a Nets team without Durant, Irving, Aldridge, Claxton, Mills, and Harris. At this point, it is not logical to have any expectations of victory for this young Thunder squad. They have young players with very high ceilings, but none of them would be a top 3 or even top 4 option on a championship team currently except for Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. They are what they are: a fun squad with some flashy highlights, but ultimately a team struggling to break 100 points every night. Veteran Derrick Favors was questionable for the game, but he will be able to suit up. His presence is a life raft for the Thunder center rotation. Jeremiah Robinson-Earl has played center recently, but he is a power forward who cannot adequately play center for long stretches of minutes. Mike Muscala is their bench big man, but he is comfortable as a stretch five and not as a big body defending the paint with highlight reel blocks. Favors has the experience and strength to match up with Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen better than Robinson-Earl can. 

The Cavaliers have thoroughly exceeded pre-season expectations as they are one of the better teams in the Eastern Conference. They were in the midst of a 5 game winning streak before losing 117-104 Wednesday night to the Bulls. Markkanen torched the Bulls for 28 points on 9/14 shooting and Garland had an all-around game with 20 points, 5 rebounds, and 12 assists. It was not enough in the end, since the vaunted Cleveland defense could not contain DeRozan (30 points) or Vucevic (24 points, 12 rebounds). The Cavaliers will enter their game against the Thunder with renewed determination to build another winning streak. Rajon Rondo and Lamar Stevens are game time decisions, but the entire main core is ready to play. The Cavaliers will look to exploit the weak Thunder frontcourt with their devastating trio of Markkanen, Mobley, and Allen. 

Oklahoma City Thunder vs Cleveland Cavaliers Betting Odds

The Thunder and Cavaliers have played once this season, and that was a surprisingly close 107-102 Cavaliers win on January 15th. Garland dominated the Thunder with a line of 27 points, 18 assists, and 5 rebounds. Mobley and Allen combined for 33 points and 18 rebounds for the Cavaliers. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander led the way for the Thunder with 21 points. In the rematch, I expect the Cavaliers to blow out the Thunder by 15+ points. The Cavaliers know every game counts in a stacked Eastern Conference, so their intensity and focus will be heightened after a loss. Plus they have the clear talent advantage, especially in the frontcourt. Look for the Cavaliers to go up early and coast to a victory in this one. 

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TV Schedule

Date: 1/22/22
Time: 8:00 PM ET
Arena: Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse – Cleveland, OH
Channel: NBAtv, BSOK

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Oklahoma City Thunder Starting Lineup

PG: Josh Giddey
SG: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
SF: Luguentz Dort
PF: Jeremiah Robinson-Earl
C: Derrick Favors

Oklahoma City Thunder Analysis

While 6th overall pick Josh Giddey gets the majority of the attention, the Thunder have another promising rookie in Jeremiah Robinson-Earl. The 6’8”, 242 pound forward has played both power forward and center for the Thunder this season. In 23 MPG, the rookie has averaged 7.0 PPG, 5.8 RPG, and 1.0 APG. His offensive skills in the pick and roll need work, but he runs the floor on transition and picks up easy points. His ability to stretch the floor is a work in progress (33.1 3PT%), but he can definitely become an average shooter from deep. Robinson-Earl can get open and sink a catch and shoot ball, but he will never become an elite shot maker off the dribble. 

On defense, Robinson-Earl has been a swiss army knife filling every role the Thunder need. He’s disrupted opponents when they run a pick and roll, while contesting spot up shooters. His defense will most likely always be better than his offense, but the Thunder got a steal in a player who was not even a first round pick in the draft. The team will certainly need Robinson-Earl in this matchup against 6’11” Evan Mobley, 6’11” Jarrett Allen, and 7’0” Lauri Markkanen. 

Cleveland Cavaliers Starting Lineup

PG: Darius Garland
SG: Isaac Okoro
SF: Lauri Markkanen
PF: Evan Mobley
C: Jarrett Allen

Cleveland Cavaliers Analysis

When the league zigged, the Cavaliers zagged. For some time now, the NBA has morphed into a small-ball lineup league where the traditional power forward is a scarcity. Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett, and Pau Gasol would most likely be centers in today’s game and not their accustomed power forward role. However, the Cavaliers have ignored this new trend by starting Markkanen, Mobley, and Allen together. Although it may seem clunky, Markkanen is a great shooter who is more comfortable shooting jump shots on the perimeter rather than posting up. With guards and shorter forwards marking him, Lauri’s shot is near-impossible to block considering he is usually six inches taller than the defender. 

Mobley and Allen both operate in the paint, but their chemistry is solid for a duo playing their first season together. The defense with Mobley and Allen is like a brick wall in the paint. Mobley is extremely nimble for his size and recovers smoothly when beaten. He can switch onto the perimeter, leaving Allen to patrol the paint. Mobley is the front runner for Rookie of the Year currently and deserves all of the praise he has been receiving. 

Oklahoma City Thunder vs Cleveland Cavaliers Fantasy Picks

I am going with Darius Garland, Evan Mobley, and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander in this one. Garland has been scorching the NBA with numerous double-doubles. He absolutely annihilated the Thunder last matchup, and I expect a line around 25 points, 4 rebounds, and 13 assists from him. Mobley will be too much to handle for the Thunder big men, so look for a 20 point, 8 rebound performance from him. Allen will take some of his rebounds, but Mobley will still get plenty considering the Thunder are the worst shooting team in the league. Gilgeous-Alexander is the only reliable scorer on the Thunder. He will get his usual shots and score 25+ points while facilitating 7+ assists. Look for the stars to shine in this one. Even though the game will not be a close contest, there will be some fantastic performances in this one. 

I am currently a junior at University of Pennsylvania majoring in Psychology. I have spent the last few years working with various UPenn athletics teams and contributing to the UPenn Sports Analytics Group. My primary interests reside in NBA, NFL, and College Football.

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