Things aren’t necessarily terrible in Cleveland right now, but the Cavaliers could suddenly use a strong win against a good team. They’ve beaten Memphis and Brooklyn since the break, but have taken losses to the Spurs, Wizards and 76ers. They’ve hung in some games, but they haven’t quite found their stride yet. They’ll have another chance - this time, against the Denver Nuggets.
Who: Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Denver Nuggets
When: 7:30 p.m.
Where: Quicken Loans Arena - Cleveland, Ohio
Enemy Blog: Denver Stiffs
TV: Fox Sports Ohio
Online: Fox Sports Go, NBA League Pass
Cavaliers injuries: Kevin Love (OUT - hand)
Nuggets injuries: Tyler Lydon (OUT - knee)
Three keys to the game
- The Nuggets are finally whole with Paul Millsap back in the fold after missing several months due to injury. This is one of the most effective starting lineups in the league, outscoring opponents by 11.8 points per 100 possessions. The Cavaliers starters have struggled at points, with J.R. Smith, Cedi Osman and George Hill all having inconsistent performances. We’ll see if they can keep pace.
- The Cavaliers just can’t shoot right now, man. It’s really hard to evaluate much of anything when all of their jumpers are so hilariously off. Pretty much only Kyle Korver and Cedi Osman (in limited minutes) have been able to hit the broad side of a barn as of late. We won’t have a great picture of what this team’s ceiling offensively will be until some shots go in. It’s not sexy, but it’s true.
- The Cavaliers will have their hands full with Nicola Jokic as a passer out of the high post. One of the downsides to changing the roster so much at the trade deadline, the team’s defenders don’t know exactly what they’re doing on off-ball actions. The Nuggets run a beautiful, busy off-ball offense, and they could torch the Cavaliers if they’re not locked in.
George Hill will have his hands full with Jamal Murray at the point guard position. He is a flamethrower when he’s locked on, but Hill should do a solid job on him defensively. He’s got the long arms and knowhow to bother him on-ball. We’ll see if he can find enough rhythm offensively to attack Murray on the other side of the ball.
Fear the Sword’s Fearless Prediction
The Cavaliers just don’t have rhythm, and the Nuggets are a tough out. The Cavs can win, but it’ll be tough. Cavs 105, Nuggets 108.