Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports
The Denver Nuggets and Cleveland Cavaliers will put their respective winning streaks on the line tonight at the Quicken Loans Arena.
The Denver Nuggets have won 8 games in a row. The Cleveland Cavaliers have won 3 games in a row. Only one of these teams will walk off the court with their winning streak intact tonight. Who will it be? DUN DUHHHH
Who? Cleveland Cavaliers (16-34) vs. Denver Nuggets (32-18)
When? 7:30 PM Eastern
Where? Quicken Loans Arena -- Cleveland, OH
Where on my eyeballs? Fox Sports Ohio / NBATV
Tickets? Cleveland Cavaliers tickets
The Denver Nuggets are red-hot. Like, really really hot. Like, super super hot. They've won 8 games in a row and seem to be destroying everybody in their path. Meanwhile, the Cavs have been playing much better lately (particularly on offense). But this is still a really tough game. The Cavs are on the second night of a back to back and the Nuggets are one of those teams that could wear you down physically. They play at the 2nd fastest pace in the NBA and love to get out in transition. The Cavaliers have done a fantastic job limiting turnovers lately (just 10.4 per game over the last 10 games) and they will need to continue that tonight.
If the Cavs can keep the Nuggets from getting out in transition too much, they'll have a much better shot. The Nuggets' halfcourt offense isn't nearly as good and they lack consistent shooting threats. That weakness can be exploited.
While the Cavaliers' offense has been spectacular since the arrivals of Marreese Speights and Wayne Ellington, the defense has remained relatively the same. The Cavaliers will need to get their defense going tonight if they want to extend this winning streak. Just trying to outscore the Nuggets will rarely work.
The other big key to stopping the Nuggets is taking care of business on the defensive glass. Kenneth Faried is a one-man wrecking crew on the offensive boards. You cannot let him continually get second-chance opportunities. This offense is hard enough to stop once, don't make it harder by having to stop them on two possessions in a row.
Ultimately, I think the difference will be Kyrie Irving. Shocking, I know. If the Cavs do all of the things that I pointed out, then they should be able to stay in the game for the first 45 minutes. And if it's a close game down the stretch, I'll put my money on the team with the superstar.
Dion Waiters has been much better over the past several games. I want to see more and more progress from him. I love what he's doing, but he has to keep it up.
Getting something, anything from Alonzo Gee on the offensive end would be tremendous. I'm not going to get my hopes up, but it would be splendid.
Fear the Sword's Fearless Prediction:
Why would I doubt them now? The Cavs have been great over the past 10 games (7-3) and seem to be maturing right before our eyes. They are keeping their poise in close games and have managed to execute in clutch moments. The Cavs pull out a close one at home, 111-108.