|2012/2013 NBA Regular Season: Game 51|
|February 9th, 2013 - 5:30 PM (MT)|
|Quicken Loans Arena - Cleveland, OH
|TV Altitude & NBA-TV / 950 AM / 104.3 FM The Fan|
|Denver Stiffs||Blogs||Fear the Sword|
Anderson Varejao (out), Luke Harangody (out)
| Nuggets are on a season-high 8 game winning streak
||Stat||The Cavaliers are on a 3 game winning streak
How happy are the Nuggets on their 8 game win streak right now? Happier than Dikembe Mutumbo blocking a shot:
After dominating the Chicago Bulls at the Pepsi Center on Thursday, the Nuggets will take an eight-game winning streak to Cleveland, then trudge through a blizzard to Boston, Toronto, and Brooklyn, before a brief stop at home to take on the Celtics - again! - at the Pepsi Center on February 19th. Although neither Cleveland nor Toronto are playoff bound in the (L)Eastern Conference, the suddenly hot Celtics and 5th-seeded Brooklyn Nets are. While I don't expect the Nuggets to win all four games, each of the games against this competition are winnable, and it would be a nice surprise to see the Nuggets come back to the Pepsi Center on a 12 game winning streak.
Today, the Nuggets will look to sweep the season series - of 2 - against the Cavs. When last the Nuggets and Cavs met on January 11th, the Nuggets were outscored by 11 points in the first half behind Kyrie Irving's game-high 28 points, despite his playing through an apparent illness. However, the Nuggets used a burst of energy and defense in the third quarter - sound familiar lately? - to cut the lead to just 4 points (76-72) heading into the fourth. From there, Koufos and Lawson had big bucket after big bucket in the paint against the porous Cavs interior defense sorely missing Anderson "Sideshow Bob" Varejao, and Gallinari's dagger 3 - another statement becoming more and more familiar - was enough to put the Cavs away, 98-91. The Nuggets ended up outscoring the Cavs by 18 in the second half.
Although the Nuggets are now playing in the Cavaliers' house, the recipe for victory remains the same: contain Kyrie Irving. Irving is one of the most dynamic young players in the NBA, averaging 24 points, 5 rebounds and 3 assists per game as a rookie. His unique blend of body control and a deadeye shooting touch gives him the ability to score at will from the floor, and his quickness allows him to carve up unsuspecting interior defenses. While not as fast as Ty Lawson, he's crafty and deceptive. Rookie Dion Waiters and sophomore Tristan Thompson have shown flashes of intensity and good play, though nowhere near the level that they need to keep the Cavs competitive night in and night out, and Cleveland's poor 16-34 record shows it.
If Iguodala and the Nuggets can keep Kyrie to "great" instead of "spectacular", this should be a fairly decisive win. Yet the Nuggets have not yet displayed the necessary consistency on the road for me to in any way think that this game is a sure thing. The Nuggets cannot look past the Cavaliers to the tougher competition ahead, and a successful road trip starts with a W at the Q tonight.