GameDay Preview: Cavs at Nuggets

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Kyrie Irving, Ty Lawson
Garrett Ellwood/NBAE/GettyImages

Game Summary

The Cavaliers (9-28) are on the road for the next five games, beginning with the Denver Nuggets (21-16) tonight at the Pepsi Center. Tipoff is at 9:00 p.m. ET.

The Wine and Gold look to build off their 99-83 win over the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday at The Q while the Nuggets aim to extend their current three-game winning streak.

Cleveland has shot .500 or better from the three-point line in each of their last two games after connecting on 7-14 (.500) from deep at Chicago on Jan. 7 and 12-23 (.522) from behind the arc in the win over Atlanta. Over the last six games, the Cavs are shooting .402 (47-117) from long distance.

Denver comes into tonight's contest boasting a dynamic, balanced scoring attack with six players averaging double-digits in points. Danilo Gallinari leads that group averaging 16.2 points while second-year big Kenneth Faried averages a double-double at 12.2 points and 10.2 rebounds.

Probable Starters/Injury Report* presented by Cleveland Clinic

Cleveland ClinicCavaliers: PG - Kyrie Irving, SG - C.J. Miles, SF - Alonzo Gee
PF - Tristan Thompson, C - Tyler Zeller

Nuggets: PG - Ty Lawson, SG - Andre Iguodala, SF - Danilo Gallinari
PF - Kenneth Faried, C - Kosta Koufos

Injuries: (Cavs) - Anderson Varejao, (Vastus Medialis Split/Surgery, Out), Kyrie Irving, (Illness, Questionable)
(Nuggets) - Wilson Chandler (Left Hip, Out)

*Subject to change

Head-to-Head Matchup

The Cavaliers trail the all-time series against the Nuggets, 42-32, despite posting a 23-13 mark in games played at home. Denver holds a 29-9 advantage in games played in their home arena.

The two teams have split the last four meetings in Denver with the Cavs winning the last visit, 100-99, on March 7, 2012. In the win, Kyrie Irving scored or assisted on Cleveland’s final 12 points in the last 2:36 of the game, including making the game-winning layup with 4.0 seconds remaining, to lead the Cavs to victory. Irving finished the night with 18 points, a game-high eight assists, five rebounds and three steals in 33 minutes, while Alonzo Gee added 19 points, seven rebounds and a season-high tying four steals in 32 minutes.

Key to the Game/Key Matchup

Key to the Game

Attacking the Glass

Both teams have very active big men and come into tonight's game as two of the top rebounding teams in the league, especially on the offensive glass. Denver ranks first in second chance points at 16.8 per game while the Cavaliers rank second at 16.4 points.

The Cavs’ 12 offensive rebounds led to 17 second chance points against Atlanta on Jan. 9 and have now tied or outrebounded their opponent in offensive rebounds in 28 of their 37 games so far, averaging 13.1 offensive rebounds per game (4th) to their opponents’ 10.7, which is 3rd-lowest in the league.

So far this season, Denver is 10-2 when posting 20+ second chance points. The Nuggets have been dominant on the glass so far this season, averaging 46.1 rebounds per game and outrebounding their opponent in 22 of their first 36 games. Since the start of the 2010-11 season, Denver is 79-24 when outrebounding their opponent.

Furthermore, Denver has had a 15+ rebound differential five times and have grabbed 20+ offensive rebounds six times (5-1). Denver’s 46.1 boards per game are second in the NBA and their 13.9 offensive rebounds are tied for first.

Suffice it to say, whichever team can box out and attack the glass with success will give themselves a distinct advantage.

Key Matchup

Cavs guards vs. Nuggets guards

While the bigs battle on the glass, the speedy, athletic matchup between the Cavs and Nuggets guards will dictate the pace of the game.

For the Cavaliers, Kyrie Irving has scored at least 30 points in three of his last four games, averaging 27.8 points on .493 shooting, including .650 (13-20) from deep and .933 (28-30) from the foul line, 3.3 rebounds, 5.5 assists and 2.8 steals in 35.3 minutes per game over that span.

Alongside Irving in the backcourt will be Dion Waiters and C.J. Miles. Waiters is averaging 14.1 points per game, which is the 2nd-highest among all NBA rookies. Miles scored in double figures in 15 of his last 18 games (Dec. 5-Jan.7) and is averaging 15.0 points, while shooting .459 (50-109) from deep and .914 (32-35) from the foul line over that stretch.

Denver's starting backcourt features speedy point guard, Ty Lawson and athletic shooting guard, Andre Iguodala. The combo has proved to complement each other very well in their first season together with Lawson averaging 14.1 points and 6.8 assists and Iguodala posting averages of 14.0 points, 5.7 rebounds and 4.5 assists.

Where to Catch the Action

TV: FSOhio HD, NBA League Pass
Radio: WTAM 1100, XM 218, Sirius 123, NBA League Pass Audio