GameDay Preview: Cavs at Nuggets

Tristan Thompson
Garrett Ellwood/NBAE/GettyImages

Game Summary

The Wine and Gold conclude their five-game road trip tonight as they visit the Denver Nuggets at the Pepsi Center. Tipoff is at 9:00 p.m. ET.

Through the first four games of the trip, Cleveland (14-25) is averaging 102.3 points, a .440 (33-75) mark from the three-point line, 21.5 assists and only 11.3 turnovers.

After averaging 93.5 points during a season-worst eight-game losing streak, Denver (20-18) has scored 117.7 per game in winning six of their last seven including their third-highest scoring total of the season in a 123-116 victory at Golden State on Wednesday.

Probable Starters/Injury Report* presented by Cleveland Clinic

Cleveland ClinicCavaliers: PG - Kyrie Irving, SG - C.J. Miles, SF - Luol Deng
PF - Tristan Thompson, C - Anderson Varejao

Nuggets: PG - Ty Lawson, SG - Randy Foye, SF - Wilson Chandler
PF - Kenneth Faried, C - J.J. Hickson

Status Update: (Cavs) - None to Report

(Nuggets) - Danlio Gallinari, (Left Knee ACL Tear, Out), Javale McGee, (Left Tibia Stress Fracture, Out), Wilson Chandler, (Left Hip Strain, Probable), Darrell Arthur, (Left Groin Strain, Out), Anthony Randolph, (Left Ankle Sprain, Probable)

*Subject to change

Head-to-Head Matchup

In the two teams' last matchup on Dec. 4, Kyrie Irving poured in a game-high 23 points, while Tristan Thompson (17 points, 21 rebounds, three blocks) and Anderson Varejao (18 points, 13 rebounds, three blocks) each registered double-doubles as the Wine and Gold took home a 98-88 victory.

All-time, the Wine and Gold are 33-44 against Denver (24-14 Home, 9-30 Road).

Key to the Game/Key Matchup

Key to the Game

Second Chance Points

The Cavaliers have held at least a +10 margin in rebounding in five of the last eight games. Since Dec. 31, Cleveland is outrebounding its opponents by 6.2 rebounds per game (47.3 to 41.1).

Furthermore, Cleveland ranks 8th in the NBA in offensive rebounds per game this season at 12.0.

The Wine and Gold outrebounded the Nuggets 58-43 and had 20 offensive boards that led to a season-high 23 second chance points in their first meeting of the season back in December. Look to see if the Cavs can continue to dominate the glass and turn second chance opportunities into easy baskets.

Key Matchup

Backcourt Battle

Like most Western Conference teams, Denver plays a fast-paced, up-tempo type of game led by speedsters Ty Lawson and Nate Robinson.

Lawson has been scoring in bunches and doing a little bit of everything for the Nuggets. The fifth-year point guard is averaging 18.0 points (T-29th in NBA), 3.4 rebounds, 8.7 assists (3rd in NBA) and 1.47 steals through his first 36 games. Lawson is one of four players in the NBA to average 18.0 ppg and 8.0 apg.

Robinson is Denver's spark plug off the bench. The Nuggets have won 10 straight when Robinson scores at least 15 points, and they are 11-2 when he has 14 or more.

Matching up against Denver's duo will be Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters.

Irving posted his 18th 20-point game of the season on Wednesday versus Portland when he finished with 21 points, four assists and one steal in 40 minutes. He continues to lead all East point guards in scoring this season (21.4, 3rd among all NBA point guards).

Waiters has scored in double figures in 13 of his last 15 games (since Dec. 13), averaging 16.3 points and 3.1 assists in 31.6 minutes over that stretch. His 15.6 points per game average this season is the most for a Cavs bench player since 1989-90 (Hot Rod Williams - 16.9 points).

Where to Catch the Action

TV: FOX Sports Ohio, Radio: WTAM 1100, NBA League Pass Audio, XM 203, Sirius 211

For live in-game updates, follow @cavs, @CavsJoeG, @CavsFredMcLeod, @MrCavalier34, @CavsJMike and @chones22 on Twitter.

Be sure to check for Joe Gabriele's live in-game blog providing instant analysis and game notes. Plus, get into the discussion as die-hard Cavs fans talk about the game on CavFanatic's GameDay Thread.

Programming Note

Tonight, FOX Sports Ohio is airing the Cavs – Nuggets game (9:00 p.m.) and the Blue Jackets – Capitals game (7:00 p.m.). CLICK HERE for programming details.

On Deck

After tonight's game, the Cavs return home to The Q on Monday to face the Dallas Mavericks at 1:00 p.m. ET.