Nuggets vs. Cavaliers: Expect High Scoring in Cleveland

Action Network contributor Jacob McKenna previews Thursday's NBA contest between the Denver Nuggets and the Cleveland Cavaliers and offers up a betting prediction.

Nuggets vs. Cavaliers Odds

Nuggets Odds +2.5
Cavaliers Odds -2.5
Over/Under 223
Time 7 p.m. ET
TV NBA League Pass
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.

The Denver Nuggets will play their first game post All-Star break on Thursday night when they take on the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Denver strung together a marvelous season prior to the break, winning 41 of the 59 games played. That 41-18 record is good for the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference, with a sizable five-game gap separating the Nuggets from the Memphis Grizzlies.

Cleveland also had some success before the All-Star break and enters this matchup with a 38-23 record, good enough for fifth in the Eastern Conference.

It is always a great battle when two NBA Finals hopefuls go head-to-head and this matchup will be no exception. Let’s take a look at the odds and make a prediction for the Denver Nuggets vs Cleveland Cavaliers matchup.

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Denver Nuggets

The Denver Nuggets sit atop the standings because of their elite play on the offensive end of the floor. has the Nuggets ranked first in Offensive Rating at 117.3. That has been achieved largely because of Denver’s tremendous shooting efficiency as the Nuggets are shooting 51.2% from the floor and 39.2% from beyond the arc. Denver ranks first in the NBA in both those categories.

However, even though Denver has ripped opposing defenses apart, it has struggled on the defensive end. Through 59 games, Denver posted a Defensive Rating of 113.2, putting itself in the middle of the pack. For the most part, the Nuggets have been rather average on defense, but on the road, that rating rises to 117.0.

Denver ranks 29th in Opponent Field Goal % on the road this season (50.1%), simultaneously allowing its opponents to shoot 37.3% from behind the arc.

There are zero questions about this offense, but there are plenty of question marks surrounding this team’s vulnerability on the defensive end.

Cleveland Cavaliers

The Cleveland Cavaliers suffered a loss to the 76ers in their last game before the All-Star break. However, prior to that loss, Cleveland was red hot, ripping off seven straight wins.

That seven-game stretch was likely Cleveland’s best stretch this season. According to, the Cavaliers posted a Net Rating of 16.5 in those seven games, 8.0 points higher than the next closest team.

That impressive Net Rating came as a result of many improvements, but perhaps the most important being on the offensive end of the floor.

The Cavaliers own a 115.0 Offensive Rating on the season, but in that seven-game stretch, that rating soared to 120.2. That 5.2-point increase came as a result of Cleveland dominating down low and scoring an average of 60.9 points per game in the paint.

The Cavaliers went into the break hot on the offensive end, and they have a great matchup on their hands to continue that dominance.

Nuggets-Cavaliers Pick

We have two tremendous offensive teams going head-to-head and, as a result, I think the over is a viable play.

It is no secret Cleveland is one of the best defenses in the NBA, as evidenced by having the league’s best Defensive Rating (109.3). However, we already saw Denver have success against the Cavaliers once this season as the Nuggets scored 121 points against the Cavaliers on Jan. 6.

Even with Aaron Gordon out and Jamal Murray questionable, I expect Denver to have that same kind of firepower on the offensive end, and Cleveland will likely be able to match it against a poor Nuggets defense.

Expect a back-and-forth contest that leads to a high score.