The Denver Nuggets and the Cleveland Cavaliers kick off their respective schedules in the second half of the 2022-23 NBA season facing off against each other. The Nuggets won the previous showdown, but can they go 2-0 against the dangerous Cavs on the road? Or, will Cleveland hit back and deal the Nuggets a loss?
Catch this game live on Friday, February 24 at 8:00 AM, Manila time
Away: Denver Nuggets (41-18/14-14 Away)
Projected Starting Five:
- PG: Reggie Jackson (DTD)
- SG: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
- SF: Michael Porter Jr.
- PF: Jeff Green
- C: Nikola Jokic
Denver is looking to take up where it left off prior to the NBA All-Star Weekend. The Nuggets beat the Dallas Mavericks at home, 118-109, in their last outing before the end of the first half of the season, and will be carrying a three-game undefeated streak to The Land this Friday. Of course, the be-all and end-all for the Nuggets is Nikola Jokic, who is on pace to win yet another MVP.
The Serbian is averaging a triple-double of 24.7 points, 11.5 rebounds, and 10.1 assists, and he’s doing it efficiently. He is shooting an absurd 63.2 FG% and 39.1 3FG%. With Jokic leading the charge, the Nuggets entered the All-Star break third in the league with 117.6 points per 100 possessions adjusted. Cleveland arguably is the best defensive team in the NBA right now, but Jokic and the Nuggets gave the Cavs a reality check on that end of the floor when they shot 53.1 FG% in their 121-108 home loss over Darius Garland and company last month. In that game, Jokic mustered a triple-double of 28 points, 15 rebounds, and 10 assists in 35 minutes. Jamal Murray’s (knee) current status remains up in the air. The same can be said about Aaron Gordon (ribs).
The Nuggets are 4-1 ATS in their last five games overall.
Home: Cleveland Cavaliers (38-23/25-6 Home)
Projected Starting Five:
- PG: Darius Garland
- SG: Donovan Mitchell
- SF: Isaac Okoro
- PF: Evan Mobley
- C: Jarrett Allen
Donovan Mitchell and the Cavs can’t wait to get back on the court. Before the All-Star break, the Cavs had their goal of extending their win streak to eight games crushed in a 118-112 road loss to Joel Embiid and the Philadelphia 76ers. Even in that loss, though, the Cavs managed to hit 50% of their shots from the field. It’s their defense that wasn’t on par, but after long rest, it could be back to its top form by the time Cleveland faces the Nuggets again.
On the season, the Cavs are No. 1 in the NBA in scoring defense with just 106.1 points allowed per game. They are also No. 1 in adjusted defensive rating with only 109.7 points surrendered per 100 possessions. Perhaps the most important thing to know about the Cavs heading into the rematch versus Denver is that Mitchell is expected to play this time around. In the first meeting, the Mitchell was not available due to rest purposes, leaving Garland and Caris LeVert to carry most of the load on offense. With Mitchell likely to play, Denver is about to get heavily tested. The Cavs are 10th in the NBA in adjusted offensive rating and 10th as well with a 55.6 eFG%.
Cleveland is 4-0 ATS in its last four games after a loss.
Spread: The Cavs (-2.5) cover.
Over/Under: The total (221.5) hits the Over.