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Denver Nuggets look to get on track against the feuding Cleveland Cavaliers

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Two 1-3 teams with questions face off tonight. One will leave with more questions, one will leave with a glimmer of hope.

Ty Lawson's play could be the key to a Nuggets win against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Ty Lawson's play could be the key to a Nuggets win against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports
Game 2: 2014-15 NBA Season
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1-3 (1-2 away)
Series 0-0
1-3 (1-1 at home)
Nov. 1, 2014
Pepsi Center - Denver, CO
8:30 PM MT
Altitude / 950 AM

Kyrie Irving PG Ty Lawson
Dion Waiters SG Arron Afflalo
LeBron James SF Wilson Chandler
Kevin Love PF Kenneth Faried
Anderson Varejao C Timofey Mozgov
Notes
Fear The Sword Blogs Denver Stiffs
Matthew Dellavedova (Out) Injuries J.J. Hickson (suspension), Ty Lawson (Day-To-Day)
In 20 career performances against the Nuggets, LeBron has averaged 26.4 points, 7.9 assists, and 7.1 rebounds per game. Etc... Ty Lawson in eight career games (five starts) against Cleveland, averaging 10.9 points, 6.5 assists and 1.6 steals per game.

Two allegedly prolific offenses that have been anything but prolific. Two defenses that have lived up to their shoddy reputations. Denver was expected to have a great offense again this season, but so far is ranked 18th in points per game (98.5) and 22nd in offensive rating (99.8). The Nuggets have not settled on a steady rotation (no players is averaging more than 33 minutes per game, with seven players averaging between 21 and 13 minutes per game).

This is how you get leading scorers averaging 12.5, 11.8, 10.8, and 10.0 points per game. This is abnormal to say the least, but it's not the bad part.

Cleveland has had it's own strugglesThey are apparently feuding about ball distribution, shot selection, and that sieve of a defense. Two different teams, similar issues. One team will get on track tonight.

Key Matchup: Nuggets offense vs. Cavaliers defense

I haven't spoken about the Nuggets defense. One thing at a time folks. If the Nuggets are going to get anything back on track it has got to be their offense. If nothing else the Cavaliers defense, full of wide-open shots and slothful interior rotations. The "fleet-footed" Jazz (at a pace rating of 91.7, 24th in the NBA), scored 46 points in the paint and outrebounded Cleveland 41-30.

The Nuggets have to take advantage of this. As Nate pointed out earlier today;

Why weren't the Nuggets running against them? How were the Nuggets unable to get a running game going against a severely undermanned Thunder team? Shaw has said he wants to run, but we're seeing far more half-court post-up play.

Strategically Denver has been playing through the his bigs by having them initiate from the free-throw line down and with post-entry on both sides. Know that the best Nuggets offense features Ty Lawson in a high pick-and-roll. I should point this out again: Cleveland gave up 46 points to the Utah Jazz in the paint.

The post play takes Lawson away from the middle of the floor. It also makes his drives less effective. Last year Lawson averaged less drives per game (10 compared to 12), but had a higher shooting percentage (49.3 compared to 30), and scored more per game (5.5 compared to 3.5). I know it's a small sample size, but it's worth noting the current strategy leaves Lawson confined to one side of the floor.

His drives open up more shots for everyone else, recreating a "secondary break" within the half court. Shaw needs to adjust to his personnel and take advantage of holes in the Cleveland defense.

Settle the Rotation

Denver’s depth is well known and well seen. They legit go 12 deep, too bad there has only been one game where it was utilized correctly. The Nuggets first loss against the Sacramento Kings featured seven scorers in double figures with a good balance between the starting five and the bench.

Shaw isolated the key players that needed more than 30 minutes (in this case Ty Lawson - because he's the engine, and Wilson Chandler - to matchup with a red-hot Rudy Gay), while utilizing the players that could take advantage of the personnel (the Kings had no one that could stay with Randy Foye, a bench player, who scored 28 points).

Shaw needs to make sure he manages a solid rotation that is consistent with his strategy and the personnel that can take advantage of Cleveland's deficiencies. Denver is one of the only teams that can do this effectively.

Prediction

Well the Nuggets organization seems to think that the Cavaliers "Big Three" doesn't exist. I think they make their mark tonight, but it's not enough as the Nuggets win a close one, 111-108.