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Keys to the Game: Cavaliers at Thunder

Keys to the Game presented by: Key Bank


One for the Road

The Cavaliers look to close out one of the most successful West Coast trips in recent memory when they wrap up the six-gamer on Saturday night – traveling to OKC for the first of two meetings in seven days against Josh Giddey and the Thunder.

On Friday night in San Antonio, the Cavaliers made it three straight on the trip after faltering on Sunday night in San Francisco – holding the Spurs scoreless for nearly five minutes in the fourth quarter to seal the deal.

Darius Garland – who’s now averaged 32.7ppg over the last three meetings against San Antonio – continued his outstanding roadie, erupting for a game-high 32 points on 11-for-25 shooting from the floor, including 4-of-8 from long-range, adding a team-best eight assists and committing just a single turnover on the night.

For the Cavaliers – who, at 25-18, sit mere percentage points behind Philly for the East’s 5th-seed – it was another strong night for their big men. Jarrett Allen notched his 22nd double-double of the season with 17 points and a game-high 16 boards while Evan Mobley added 15 points, six rebounds, three assists and a block.

The Thunder (14-27) snapped a five-game skid in style on Thursday night – traveling to Brooklyn to blast a shorthanded Nets squad playing without Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant by three TDs. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander had a monster night for OKC, going off for 33 points, 10 boards and nine assists. Third-year man Luguentz Dort continued his impressive season – adding 27 points in the win.

Following the trip finale on Saturday night, the Cavaliers finally return home – where they’ll play five of their final seven games in the month of January.

On Monday, Cleveland welcomes the Nets for an MLK Day matchup at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse before getting right back on the road for a big battle with the Bulls on Wednesday in the Windy City. Next Saturday, the Wine and Gold welcome the Thunder to tip off a three-game homestand.


History

These two teams split their two meetings last season, with each team winning by double-digit points, including a 27-point Cavaliers’ victory here in Oklahoma City, which also followed a road victory in San Antonio. Kevin Love doubled-up and Darius Garland led Cleveland with 27 points in the win.

The Cavaliers trail the all-time series between the two franchises, 49-68, but that dates back to their days as the Seattle SuperSonics. Since they’ve relocated to OKC, the Wine & Gold actually have a 13-12 edge.

Russell Westbrook holds the all-time single-game assist mark, handing out 20 dimes in a one-sided Thunder victory in 2018. The Cavs all-time leader is the one-and-only Lenny Wilkens, who handed out 20 assists to go with 18 points in a win over a Seattle squad he’d played for and would eventually coach to an NBA Championship in 1979.


Connections

There aren’t many connections between the current Thunder and Cavaliers teams.

Both Isaac Okoro and Thunder forward Derrick Favors grew up in Atlanta, GA. And Thunder assistant coach Mike Wilks played briefly for the Wine & Gold during the 2005-06 season before being traded to the aforementioned SuperSonics in a deal that brought Flip Murray to Cleveland.

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