A slightly shorthanded Denver Nuggets squad will play their first game post-All-Star break against the surging Cavaliers in Cleveland.
Check out an in-depth analysis of this game below, including the projected starting lineups, current odds and injury reports for both teams, and our betting picks and predictions.
Denver Nuggets Vs. Cleveland Cavaliers Betting Odds
Cleveland is a 2.5-point home favorite against the best team in the west, the Denver Nuggets. The Cavs are sidelining Ricky Rubio for this game, while the Nuggets will be without Aaron Gordon, Collin Gillespie, and Zeke Nnaji.
Denver Nuggets Vs. Cleveland Cavaliers Prediction
Denver created a sizable five-game gap between itself and the second-place Memphis Grizzlies heading into the All-Star break. It would be extremely challenging for the Grizzlies, or any other team, to catch Denver at this point in the season.
While it is not impossible, Denver has a significant probability of finishing the season as the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference.
Denver will be without Aaron Gordon for this matchup, weakening its frontcourt depth substantially; the Nuggets are only 6-4 this season when Gordon is sidelined, a surprising, yet concerning, statisitc.
Meanwhile, Cleveland has everyone healthy and rested except for Ricky Rubio. The Cavaliers won seven of their past eight games leading up to the All-Star break. Their only loss was on the road against the Philadelphia 76ers.
Ultimately, the Cavs are one of the best home teams in the league (25-6) and have the second-best net rating behind only Boston. Additionally, Denver has won just two of its past six games on the road.
I’ll back the fully-loaded Cavs here.
- Denver is 12-16 ATS on the road in 2022-23
- Cleveland is 20-10-1 ATS at home in 2022-23
- The combined over record of these two teams is 57-63 in 2022-23
Our key matchup below features the two-time MVP, Nikola Jokic, and one of the best defensive frontcourts in the league, the Cleveland Cavaliers. See which has a relative advantage over the other in this battle between two non-conference titans!
Nikola Jokic vs. Cleveland Frontcourt
The Denver Nuggets will be without Aaron Gordon, which means Jokic will have to carry an even larger load than usual.
Jokic has helped this team ascend to first place in a challenging Western Conference and is in line to win his third-straight MVP; he would be the first to do it since Larry Bird in the mid-1980s.
Jokic averages close to 25 points, 12 rebounds, and ten assists on an outrageous 63% shooting from the field. He’s by far the most efficient player in the NBA as a shooter and one of the most efficient passers (ten assists on close to a 3:1 assist-to-turnover ratio!)
Nobody can stop Jokic. However, there are certain frontcourts that have a better opportunity to slow him down relative to his usual output.
Cleveland could be considered one of those frontcourts, as it starts two seven-footers (Jarrett Allen and Evan Mobley) who are terrific interior defenders.
As a matter of fact, Cleveland ranks fourth in opponent two-point percentage and second in opponent non-blocked two-point percentage; the Cavs take pride in their interior defense.
Further, they rank fifth in defensive rebounding percentage, which should lessen Jokic’s impact on the offensive glass.
Again, Jokic is going to get “his”; he always will. However, relative to his usual output and efficiency, I think he will fall just a tad short. Relative Advantage: Cleveland Frontcourt.
Denver Nuggets Starting Lineup
Cleveland Cavaliers Starting Lineups
Denver Nuggets Injuries: Aaron Gordon (Out), Zeke Nnaji (Out), Collin Gillespie (Out)
Cleveland Cavaliers Injuries: Ricky Rubio (Out)