After having gotten through their first few seasons in Oklahoma City generally escaping any injuries, the Thunder have been more hurt than healthy since losing Russell Westbrook in last season's playoffs.
On the same day Westbrook came back from his third knee surgery, the Thunder lost center Kendrick Perkins and now we know Big Perk will be out for much of the rest of the regular season.
The Thunder fared well in making up for the loss of Westbrook, so far though in games without Perkins Oklahoma City is 0-3.
Rookie Steven Adams will again get the start tonight in place of Perk and he'll be going up against a newcomer to Cleveland. Spencer Hawes will be making just his second start for the Cavs after being acquired in a trade from Philadelphia.
Hawes is 7-2, 245 and is an active big man. In three total games so far from Cleveland he's averaging just shy of a double-double per game at 12.7 points and 9.7 rebounds so Adams will have his work cut out.
The Cavs are also hurting. Third leading scorer Dion Waiters (14.5 ppg) is out with a hyperextended left knee and isn't even with the team on this trip. Neither is forward/center Anderson Varejao who is out with lower back soreness. Guard/forward C.J. Miles won't be able to play tonight either, he has a sprained left ankle.
Cleveland, after having won six straight, has now lost three in a row and the Cavs have struggled to score. That's probably music to the ears of Thunder players who know they have to play much better on defense than they have in their last two games.
"We haven't been ourselves defensively," admitted Perry Jones III after this morning's shootaround session. "We need to come out with a lot more energy and focus tonight than we have been. We can't wait till we're down or wait till the second half."
Jones may see even more playing time that what he's been getting with Perkins out. Thunder head coach Scott Brooks can mix and match his versatile roster several different ways.
"Yeah, we play a lot of different lineups and have a lot of different players that can guard different positions," pointed out second year guard Jeremy Lamb. "And now that the big fella's out we have to hold it down till he gets back."
It will be up to Jones, Lamb and their teammates to do a little bit extra to make up for the absence of Perkins.
"It's the same thing as when Russell was out, everyone had to step up, and now with Perk we definitely have to step up for his absence," Jones said.
Lamb has been working on his defense for the most part and making adjustments to help fill the gaps. A nice, long six game homestand comes in handy when there's work to be done.
"It's always good to have stretches at home to get your head together," he said.
And it's always nice to pick up a win along the way and since the Thunder haven't had one since returning from the All-Star break, now would be a good time.
- The Thunder haven't lost three straight games at home since the 2008-09 season, their first in OKC after moving from Seattle.
- The Cavs have lost three straight and are averaging just 89 points in those losses while shooting just 39.3 percent.
- The Thunder have lost six of their last nine games against the Cavs.
- Tipoff is 7:10pm and you can see it on Fox Sports Oklahoma
- Click back here after the game for post game reaction from inside the Thunder lockerroom.