Denver Nuggets vs. Cleveland Cavaliers Preview and Pick – 29048

Denver Nuggets (30-19) +1 , 204 at Cleveland Cavaliers (28-21), 7 pm Eastern Sunday, ESPNby Zman of

Two teams playing some pretty good ball as of late hook up when the Denver Nuggets visit the Cleveland Cavaliers in an NBA inter-conference bout Sunday night on ESPN.

Basketball Sportsbooks list Cleveland as a point-and-a-half home favorite for Sunday’s game, with a total of 204. The Cavs are also listed at about -130 on various Vegas moneylines, with Denver getting +115 as road underdogs.

The Nuggets got 49 points from Carmelo Anthony in beating Washington Friday 111-100, their fourth win in their last five games. Going into Sunday’s action, Denver sits in second place in the Northwest Division, just a game and a half back of the first-place Utah Jazz, and owns the seven spot in the Western Conference standings. But the Nugs are only a single game from being left out in the cold come playoff time in the tightly-packed West.

A short-handed Cleveland team beat Atlanta Friday 100-95, its eighth win in its last 11 games. So heading into Sunday, the Cavaliers sit in second place in the Central Division, eight games back of the first-place Detroit Pistons, and own the four spot in the Eastern Conference standings.

But the Cavs are banged up. Forwards Anderson Varejao and Aleksandar Pavlovic have already missed the last couple of weeks with injuries, and remain out. Then Drew Gooden tweaked a groin, and he’s missed the last two games and is listed as questionable for Sunday’s game. And as if that isn’t enough, now guards Larry Hughes (toe) and Daniel Gibson (hammy) are both listed as questionable for Sunday.

Denver swept the season series with Cleveland last season, and beat the Cavs 122-100 in the first meeting between these two teams this season back in November. The Nuggets have shot better than 50% from the field in each of those most recent three meetings with Cleveland. Also, the o/u is 2-1 in those last three games between these two teams, which have averaged 210 total points.

This season, Denver is 25-23 against the spread, 9-13 straight up and 10-12 vs. the numbers on the road. Meanwhile, the Cavs are 22-26 ATS this season, 15-7 SU but just 8-14 vs. the numbers at home.

Statistically speaking, the Nuggets rank 12th in the league in point differential at +2.5 per game, while Cleveland, despite a winning record, ranks 16th at -.7 points per game.

Denver is shooting 45% from the floor as a team this season, 34% from 3-point range and 76% from the free-throw line. On the other end of the court, the Cavs are shooting 44% from the floor, 36% from long range and 72% from the line.

Also, while Cleveland ranks 2nd in the league in rebounding at +3.1 boards per game, the Nuggets rank 20th at -.8 per game.

The Sagarin PREDICTOR ratings at ranks Denver 12th at 92.1, the Cavs 14th at 90.5. Sagarin’s current NBA home-court advantage figure is 3.0.

The o/u is 26-23 in Nuggets games this season, which are averaging 211 total points, while the totals are 24-23 in Cleveland games, which are averaging 195 points.

Zman’s Pick: Denver Nuggets at +1.