Game 18: Cleveland Cavaliers vs Nuggets Preview

Dec 3, 2013; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Denver Nuggets power forward Darrell Arthur (00) and point guard Nate Robinson (10) celebrate against the Brooklyn Nets during the second half at Barclays Center. The Nuggets won the game 111-87. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

LAST TIME OUT

The Cleveland Cavaliers halted a five game losing streak by holding on to defeat the Bulls Saturday night at Quicken Loans arena 97-93. The star of the evening was undoubtedly Andrew Bynum, who posted a line of 20 points, 10 rebounds, five blocks, and three assists in just 30 minutes. Dion Waiters had an efficient 20 points off the bench, Tristan Thompson broke out of his slump with a double-double of 14 points and 14 rebounds, and Kyrie Irving posted 19 points and 6 assists, albeit on 7-21 shooting.

THIS TIME UP

The Opponent: Denver Nuggets

Record: 11-6 (5-4 away)

Tipoff: December 4th 7:00 at Quicken Loans Arena

Where you can watch: Fox Sports Ohio/NBA League Pass

Where you can listen: WTAM 1100

Previous Matchup: First meeting this season.

Opponent’s Blog: Nugglove.com 

Is the offense coming around?

In Saturday’s win against the Bulls, the Cavaliers shot 47.4 percent from the floor and 46.7 percent from three. Four Cavaliers scored between 14 and 20 points, and the team had 20 assists. This was the first game Andrew Bynum and Tristan Thompson worked well together as they posted lines of 20 points 10 rebounds and 14 points 14 rebounds respectively. Dion Waiters has been solid since the reports of the Cavaliers shopping him, shooting 22-42 and averaging just under 22 points over his last three games. Mike Brown’s decision to bring Waiters off the bench seems to be paying off.

The Merry-Go-Round Continues?

Earl Clark was the Cavaliers’ first starting small forward this season, and that was a bit of a disaster. Clark has since taken Anthony Bennett’s minutes at backup power forward and seems much more comfortable in this role. Now rumors abound that Cavaliers Coach Mike Brown is considering starting Bennett as small forward instead of current starter Alonzo Gee. While playing at UNLV Bennett displayed the athleticism, ball handling, and shooting necessary to play small forward, the question is whether he is quick enough to defend the position. Bennett has actually played solid defense a power forward this season, using his length and bulk to his advantage. Guarding small forwards is a completely different matter, and it’s difficult envisioning Bennett keeping up with Nuggets small forward Wilson Chandler, let alone monsters such as Paul George, Kevin Durant and LeBron James.

Prediction

I’m going to take the optimist’s view on this one. Despite Denver’s current hot streak in which they have won seven in a row, they come in from Tuesday night’s game against the Nets tired on the second night of a road trip back-to-back. Andrew Bynum continues his effective play as J.J. Hickson is the Nuggets’ current starting center and he is one of the worst defensive big men in the league, Anthony Bennett fits well offensively with the starting lineup and begins to show some positive signs on offense, and Kyrie Irving finds his rhythm against Ty Lawson. Cavs pull it out 96-92.

Topics: Andrew Bynum, Cleveland Cavaliers, J.J. Hickson, Kyrie Irving, Ty Lawson

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