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Game Preview: Nuggets Take On LeBron, Cavs in Second of Back-to-Back

by Christopher Dempsey
Nuggets Insider
@chrisadempsey

CLEVELAND --- And now, the main event.

The schedule makers did the Nuggets no favors when bringing them to Cleveland to face the world’s best player, LeBron James, and the Cavaliers on the second of a back-to-back. And the Nuggets will face a motivated Cavs team due to the fact they lost their last home game, on Thursday, to Philadelphia.

“This is one of those schedule alert games, but it is what it is,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said. “We have to embrace the challenge. They’re a good team coming off of a home loss. They’re going to be ready to play, and they happen to have a guy by the name of LeBron James, who presents all sorts of problems. But, I think our guys will be locked in and will go out there and give great effort.”

The Cleveland team the Nuggets will see is vastly different from what it was just three weeks ago. At the trade deadline, the Cavaliers traded away six players and brought back four in return. Many of these players, however, are guys the Nuggets are familiar with – Larry Nance Jr. and Jordan Clarkson from the Lakers; Rodney Hood from the Jazz; George Hill from Sacramento.

So, while the Nuggets might not have a handle on how Cleveland is playing with the new cast, they know the personnel. And that’s a big deal.

“Good team,” guard Will Barton said. “They’ve got some new pieces, and we haven’t played them yet. I’m sure they’ll be ready to play, especially on their home court. So, we’ve got to come out ready to play from the jump.”

Quietly, the Nuggets are starting to figure things out on the road. They are coming off of their third straight road win, 108-102 at Memphis on Friday night.

This season, the Nuggets are 3-8 in the second of back-to-backs. Looking for a little inspiration? They have swept both ends of one, and it was massive – wins at Portland and then at Golden State in December.

They’ll be trying to repeat that feat tonight.

“The goal was to come out and put (Memphis) away early, and try to get some rest for (Saturday),” forward Paul Millsap said. “It’s another big game for us, but it is what it is. We’re glad we got this win. Now we’ve got to go to Cleveland, another tough place to play, and try to get that one.”

Christopher Dempsey: christopher.dempsey@altitude.tv and @chrisadempsey on Twitter