Denver Nuggets vs. Cleveland Cavaliers Preview and Pick

Denver Nuggets +6 (4-3) at Cleveland Cavaliers -6 (6-2) O/U 200 8:00 PM ET, Thursday November 13, 2008 on TNT
by Jason Green of

Tonight the Nuggets travel to Cleveland to play the Cavaliers, who are undefeated at home. The new look Nuggets have played better since Chauncey Billups was traded for Allen Iverson, as they have not lost since he came back to the team that drafted him. The same can’t be said in Detroit, as the Answer has struggled since leaving Denver.

Basketball bookies are listing the Cavaliers as 6-point favorites with a total around 200. The Cavs are posted at -300 as home favorites and the Nuggets are posted at +230 as away dogs.

The Cavs come into this game after beating the Milwaukee Bucks 99-93 on Tuesday night. The high scorer in that game was LeBron James going for 41 points on 16/24 shooting. Zydrunas Ilgauskas was huge in the win going for 15 points and grabbing 10 boards. For the game the Cavs shot well shooting 35/72 for a FG% of 48.6%. On defense the Cavs clamped down holding the Bucks to 30-79 shooting for a FG% of 38%.

The Nuggets come into this game after beating Charlotte 88-80 on Tuesday night. The high scorer for the Nuggets in that game was Carmello Anthony going for 25 points on 10/19 shooting. For the game the Nuggets shot 32/73 for a FG% of 43.8%. On defense the Nuggets allowed the Bobcats to shoot 31/77 for a FG% of 40.3%.


The Nuggets rank 7th in the league in scoring (100.1 ppg) and the Cavs rank 10th (99.5 ppg). Both teams have similar FG%’s, and FT%’s. Neither team can shoot the 3 well, especially the Nuggets who are shooting a 3 pt FG% of only 26%.

On defense the Cavs are playing better, as they rank 6th in points allowed (93 ppg) while the Nuggets only rank 20th (98.7 ppg). The Cavs are also a better rebounding team, as they have a rebounding differential of +2.5 rpg while the Nuggets are at -1.7 rpg.

This season the Cavs are 5-3 against the spread the Nuggets are 6-1. In terms of Over/Under games the Cavs are 6-3 and the Nuggets are 4-3.

On the injury front Denver is banged up at the PF position, as Kenyon Martin is day-to-day and Chris Anderson and Steven Hunter are Out. The Cavs are reporting no significant injuries.

In the recent past the Nuggets have had the Cavs number, as they have won the last 6 games against Cleveland. Cleveland, on the other hand, is trying to win their 6th game in a row tonight at home where they have yet to lose this season.

One of the main reasons the Nuggets are 4-3 is not the big trade to land Billups, but the play of C Nene (15.6 ppg 8.9 rpg), who leads the NBA in FG% (67.2%). Kenyon Martin has played well (13.6 ppg) and has stayed injury free and he will have a tough time scoring tonight, as Big Ben Wallace will guard him. Martin will also have to log a lot of minutes since the Nuggets are short on power forwards.

LeBron is going to score his points, but the guys around him, especially Mo Williams and Zydrunas Ilgauskas have to pick up the scoring slack.

Everyone knows Mello can score, but he has to keep King James from having a monster night. Billups has played decent since the trade, but his FG% is only around 25% and he needs to start shooting the rock better.

The Keys this game are how the forwards of the Nuggets play and if the Cavs can find a 2nd scorer. If Nene and Martin have a good game it will allow Mello and Billups some open looks from downtown.

Both teams are struggling with the long ball and if either team shoots the 3 well tonight they will have a big advantage. These teams are pretty evenly matched when looking at offensive and defensive stats, but the Cavs have the Wild Card in King James, who can take over a game all by himself and carry the Cavs to victory.

Jason’s Pick: Take the points.