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Preview: Nuggets play against the dethroned Cavaliers

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The Nuggets finish their road back-to-back with a game against the Cavaliers as they try to continue their winning ways.

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NBA: Cleveland Cavaliers at Denver Nuggets Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

The Nuggets survived in overtime last night thanks to Paul Millsap’s buzzer-beater tip-in, improving to 6-1 on the season. It’s their best start since the 1985-86 season, which is a Jeff Morton stat if I’ve ever seen one.

Cleveland is team that’s showing signs of LeBron Absence Fever. It’s a rare disease, but the Cavaliers have contracted it twice. It flourishes in the moist, downtrodden environments of the Rust Belt, specifically the Lake Erie region of the United States. It’s less likely to find a host in warmer climates, like southern California or the sunny beaches of Miami.

It’s a disease that strikes decisively, and the patient can be riding high one moment, only to be brought to their knees in agony in a matter of months. Patients show signs of vertigo, speaking in tongues, nausea, diarrhea, cardiac arrest, and nerve decay. Past treatments have included taking No. 1 draft pick pills, a placebo that solely relies on the host improving their own health through sheer power and will. Sometimes the medicine works for a time, then fails, vacating the host during the summer months. Sometimes the medicine never works, and the trial period ends after two years.

Thankfully the Nuggets have avoided contracting LeBron Absence Fever. But, one can never be too careful. If you see someone that is beginning to show signs of this disease, please speak up. While they may look happy and healthy now, history has shown the decline is imminent.

The basics

Who: Denver Nuggets (6-1) vs Cleveland Cavaliers (1-6)

When: 5:00 PM MT

Where: Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland, Ohio (tickets as low as $4!)

How to watch: Altitude Sports Network, NBA League Pass

Starting Lineups

Position
Denver
Cleveland
Edge
PG
Jamal Murray
George Hill
Even
SG
Gary Harris
Rodney Hood
Nuggets
SF
Torrey Craig
Cedi Osman
Cavaliers
PF
Paul Millsap
Sam Dekker
Nuggets
C
Nikola Jokic
Tristan Thompson
Nuggets
Bench
Monte Morris, Malik Beasley, Juancho Hernangomez, Trey Lyles, Mason Plumlee
Collin Sexton, Jordan Clarkson, Kyle Korver, Larry Nance Jr., Ante Zizic
Even

Injury Report:

  • Nuggets: Michael Porter Jr., Will Barton, Jarred Vanderbilt, Isaiah Thomas - out.
  • Cavaliers: Kevin Love - out.

Three things to watch for

Fatigue. This game is a “Schedule Alert” game for the Nuggets, as a result of it being the second game of a back-to-back (SEGABABA, shout-out to Hardwood Paroxysm), with the added factor of both games being on the road. If you watched last night’s game against the Bulls, you saw Jamal Murray play 44 of a possible 53 minutes, thanks to the extra overtime period. George Hill and Collin Sexton are physical guards — don’t think for a second that they aren’t going to be pressuring Murray as he brings the ball up the court. Fatigue isn’t just physical, it’s mental too, and the Nuggets young guard will need to be alert every second he’s on the court.

I’d like to buy a bucket.

Did you know you can buy a waterproof tote bag with the Nuggets logo on it? It’s the closest thing I could find that’s similar to a bucket that has a Nuggets logo on it, I’m sorry.

For the team, they’re 29th in the league in 3-point percentage after seven games. It doesn’t make sense, this is a team that was built with players known for their offense, not their defense, and they’re one of the worst teams in the league in terms of scoring. The Bulls gave up 92 points in the first half against the Warriors — the Nuggets held the Warriors to 98 points in regulation. It would have been nice to see the Nuggets score more than 100 points in regulation against the Bulls.

We can’t complain too much, because they are winning, and things could be worse, but it would be nice to see them drop 120 against a team like Chicago or Cleveland. I don’t know if I can stand a full season of one-point buzzer beater wins over Eastern Conference lottery teams.

Third quarter execution. The weary legs shouldn’t set in until about halfway through the third quarter for the starters. NBA teams have to be really tired to start the first half slow, even on SEGABABA roadies. If the Nuggets can go into halftime with a five point lead, then come out after making locker room adjustments and push the lead to 25 points with 15 minutes remaining, they should be able to turn the game over to the second unit to coast out an easy win.

If the Nuggets are as good as they think they are, they’ll win this game. If they’re not as mentally tough as they think they are, they’ll lose. This game will come down to effort and execution, because the talent edge certainly belongs to the Nuggets.

Buzzer Beater

If you missed yesterdays news about the rainbow skyline City Edition jerseys, you can catch up on that by clicking here. If you missed yesterdays news about Tyler Lydon, you can catch up on that by clicking here. Finally, you’re not going to want to miss out on the latest Mike Olson column, which you can read by clicking here.

Prediction

Nuggets 106 - Cavaliers 103.