Denver Nuggets Host Lebron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers


The Denver Nuggets return home to the friendly confines of the Pepsi Center for a date with the Eastern Conference leading Cleveland Cavaliers.

The Denver Nuggets are mired in the midst of a two-game losing streak, and will look to capitalize on the Cavaliers recent misfortunes. The Nuggets blew a sizable lead on Sunday against the Oklahoma City Thunder on the road, dooming them to another defeat in a game that they should have won. The Denver Nuggets also let the Thunder shoot nearly 58 percent from the field during the game — something that cannot happen against the Cavaliers.

Kenneth Faried did play well on Sunday, scoring 25 points and recording 11 rebounds — notching a double-double. Will Barton added 19 off the bench, while center Joffrey Lauvergne scored 18 points and recorded 5 rebounds. The Denver Nuggets and the Cleveland Cavaliers split their season series last year, each winning a game on their opponent’s home court.

Tuesday’s game in Denver is the Cavaliers’ fourth game in the last five days. After losing two consecutive games to the Golden State Warriors and the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday and Saturday, the Cavaliers rebounded with a win over the struggling Phoenix Suns last night in Arizona, 101-97.

More from Mile High Maniac

Kyrie Irving has finally returned after undergoing knee surgery in the offseason; but because tonight’s game with the Denver Nuggets is the second of a back-to-back, Irving will not dress and will sit on the bench. This definitely helps the Denver Nuggets in their quest to upset the top team in the East and to snap their two-game skid.

The Denver Nuggets will once again play without their leading scorer, Danilo Gallinari, who will miss his third straight game after suffering an ankle injury last week. Rookie Emmanuel Mudiay will also miss Tuesday’s game against the Cleveland Cavaliers as he continues to recover from his ankle injury. Tuesday’s game is the eighth straight game that Mudiay has missed for the Denver Nuggets.

Tuesday’s game against the Cavaliers represents a homecoming of sorts for two former Denver Nuggets: J.R. Smith and Timofey Mozgov. Smith played in Denver from 2006-2011 before heading to the Big Apple, while Timofey Mozgov was traded in the middle of last season to the Cavaliers after playing his previous four seasons as a member of the Denver Nuggets.

Without Danilo Gallinari once again, Will Barton figures as the go-to scorer for the Denver Nuggets on Tuesday. Barton continues to have a breakout season, averaging 15.8 points per game and 6 rebounds per contest. Over his last 10 games, Barton is averaging 19.8 points per game to go along with 6.9 rebounds and 2.5 assists per contest.

More from Denver Nuggets

Though the Cleveland Cavaliers are a superior opponent on paper, the Denver Nuggets can definitely exploit the visitors on Tuesday. Because of their grueling road trip, the Cavaliers are not a full strength — and without Kyrie Irving, the Cavs lack one of their most dynamic scorers on the offensive end. Also, if the Denver Nuggets can make Lebron James a jump-shooter, they stand a great chance to compete. On the year, Lebron James is surprisingly the worst shooter in the NBA outside the paint, shooting only 28.6 percent.

The Cleveland Cavaliers offense this is season is not a vaunted squad, but their defense ranks second in the NBA in points allowed, giving up only 95.3 points per contest. Against a Denver Nuggets offense that ranks 22nd in the NBA in points scored, this is a tough matchup.

Next: Denver Nuggets Squander Lead, Fall to OKC 122-112

The key to victory against the Cavaliers is to shoot the ball efficiently. If the Denver Nuggets can play smart basketball for 48 minutes, and not squander any leads that they may gain during the course of the game, they definitely have a chance at not only snapping their two-game skid, but to record a quality victory against one of the best teams in the league.