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Denver Nuggets finish road trip with visit to LeBron James' house

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In their first meeting, LeBron James had 22 points, 11 assists, and 7 rebounds. His Cavaliers beat the Nuggets in Denver 110-101 Nov. 7th.

Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
Game 10: 2014-15 NBA Season

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Cavs Logo

2-7 (1-4 on road)
Series 1-0 Cavs
5-3 (2-1 at home)
Nov. 17, 2014
Quicken Loans Arena - Cleveland, OH
5:00 PM MT
Altitude / 950 AM

Ty Lawson PG Kyrie Irving
Arron Afflalo SG Shawn Marion
Wilson Chandler
SF LeBron James
Kenneth Faried PF Kevin Love
Timofey Mozgov C Anderson Varejao
Notes
Denver Stiffs
Blogs Fear the Sword
Randy Foye (knee) - questionable. Danilo Gallinari, Nate Robinson, JaVale McGee may or may not play this back to back - awaiting word. Injuries Matthew Dellavedova (left knee MCL sprain) -out.

The Nuggets rank 24th in the NBA in TS% at 51.5%.

Etc...

The Cavaliers rank 6th in the NBA in TS% at 56.2%.

Unfortunately, this season we've seen prolific performances from Denver's opponents. It seems like every night Denver plays, we hear the announces discussing the season high, the career high, or the last time the opposition's offense was so great. To say the Nuggets have been struggling on defense, would be putting it lightly.

In fact, it was the Nuggets that may have jumpstarted the Cavaliers season. Heading into Denver, LeBron James' Cavs were just 1-3 and struggling to get in a groove. Since their 110-101 win in Denver, Cleveland is 3-0 and on a four game win streak. The Cavs have found their offensive groove and went from averaging 96.5 points in their first four games to 119 points during this win streak. Their most impressive performance coming in Atlanta, where they clobbered the Hawks 127-94.

And don't look now, but LeBron stat lines during this streak have been scary good.

LBJ

The King of Akron, not to be confused with our King of Thorton: Jeff Morton, is averaging 31.7 points, 8.5 assists, and 7 rebounds per game on this streak. Watch out Wilson Chandler and Alonzo Gee (anticipating Gallo isn't medically cleared to play in this back to back).

Let's check in on Cleveland's other stars. Kevin Love is averaging 16.5 points and 7 rebounds during this streak, and Kyrie Irving is averaging 22.7 points, 6.2 assists, and 4 rebounds. The big dogs are all eating in Cleveland.

On the other side of the scorer's table, the Nuggets showed some life on this road trip with a nice win against a (shell of itself) Pacers team that has been decimated by injury (Indy did bounce back to beat the Bulls in Chicago the night after losing to Denver). But Denver couldn't put together two good games in a row, and got blown out in New York against the Knicks, 109-93.

Everything was out of sorts in New York and the Nuggets cemented their loss by losing 31-8 in the second quarter to the Knicks. Here is Denver's shot chart from the entire game:

DEN vs NYK

The color red above means below league average, it does not mean "on fire!" The Nuggets went just 4-17 in the mid-range game, a terrible 23.5% shooting. But the team also struggled in the paint, shooting just 48% on the easiest looks in the game. Some of those inside attempts were tough contested shots, but the team also just missed a variety of layups and dunks (sorry Gary Harris).

We are, still, no closer to figuring out Brian Shaw's rotation as he played 12 guys against the Knicks (and 13 against the Pacers, but in a blowout win). Harris got a quick hook against the Knicks, as he was benched in the second half, after playing nearly 11 minutes in the first half. Joining Harris for a second half benching was JaVale McGee. And Danilo Gallinari, who is still ice cold, saw just over 13 total minutes in New York.

When the going gets tough during games, Shaw leans on Alonzo Gee, Darrell Arthur, and J.J. Hickson at the expense of his rotation. Those three started the second half for Denver during the infamous 84-50 first half game against the Blazers, and they regularly see crunch time minutes. The three combined to play 18 first half minutes and then 25 combined second half minutes. Gee has almost become an exclusive second half player and is being used as a utility guy at shooting guard and small forward.

What is a little curious is why Shaw continues to use Hickson at center. He often made excuses for Hickson at center last season using words like "playing out of position" and being at a size disadvantage at the five spot. Apparently Shaw is more comfortable playing Hickson as the backup five over McGee and rookie Jusuf Nurkic and instead of starter Timofey Mozgov down the stretch. We certainly haven't seen Mozgov or McGee take hold of the center spot, and the Nuggets want to bring Nurkic along slowly, but the Cavs will attack relentlessly if Hickson is the last line of defense. It's Shaw who keep preaching rim protection and then subbing out his rim protectors. We've seen that story before.

Shaw must find some sort of consistent rotation and if things go wrong, he can't abandon ship and go to his trust lineups. How long must we wait for a consistent rotation? The Cavs are going to bring offensive pressure, the Nuggets challenge is going to be great in LeBron's house.

What to watch for:

If Danilo Gallinari, Nate Robinson, JaVale McGee, and J.J. Hickson have to sit out due to medical recovery reasons, who will fill in for them? If Randy Foye is unable to play, Erick Green could suit up and see his second NBA game action ... once again against Cleveland.

Green's debut was encouraging as he tallied 6 points on 3-3 shooting and recorded 1 assist in just 9 minutes.