Denver Nuggets (41-18) at Cleveland Cavaliers (38-23)
Game Info: Thursday, February 23, 2023 at 7:00 p.m. EST (Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse)
Betting Odds: Cavaliers (-2) / Over/Under (221.5)
Pick: Cavaliers (-2)
Let's bring in two of the best teams that the NBA has to offer as the first game we are heading to after the All-Star break when the Denver Nuggets head into Cleveland to take on the Cavaliers in an attempt to keep their sizable lead atop the Western Conference.
Denver jumps into the last stretch of the season with the #1 ranked offense in the NBA. Nikola Jokic is well on his way to a back-to-back-to-back MVP award, but if he can't take his team into the NBA Finals this time around, there will certainly be questions around the organization on the pieces they have put together around him. With the Phoenix Suns acquiring Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard and Paul George leading a revamped Clippers squad, Luka Doncic forming a new pairing in Dallas with Kyrie Irving, amongst several other teams in the equation, the battle to the Finals will be tough out West. Despite every other team improving at the deadline, the Nuggets were much quieter, only acquiring backup center, Thomas Bryant, from the Los Angeles Lakers. With the way Michael Porter Jr., Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and several others are having outstanding campaigns, Denver will need them to continue their quality play and show up big time late in the season if they want to bring home hardware this time around.
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Cleveland is a team that has been quite easy to read up until this point in the season. On the road, they have shown weaknesses and have been inconsistent. On the flip side, in Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse, they have boasted one of the best records in the NBA (25-6 SU). Furthermore, they are also 20-10-1 ATS as the home team, so they have managed to win by large margins in their home contests as well. Coming in with the best-ranked defense across The Association, I fully expect Head Coach J.B. Bickerstaff to swarm Jokic every chance that he gets to make anyone else but him beat his Cavs squad. This will not be easy in any manner, as the majority of teams fail miserably at it, but if there is any team that can do it best, the Cavaliers are at the top of that list. The likes of Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen will have their hands full, but can they get the job done on their home floor as they try to start the post-All-Star break run toward the Playoffs in style?
Betting trends to consider in this matchup:
- Cleveland is 20-10-1 ATS as the home team
- The Cavaliers are 6-2 ATS in their last 8 games played
- Denver is 12-16 ATS playing away from home
What a great way to get back into the NBA season with a clash of the best-ranked offense versus the best-ranked defense. This one will come down to the wire, but I can not dismiss how exceptionally Cleveland has played at home. Additionally, although having a 41-18 record, the Nuggets are only 14-14 away from home, something that Head Coach Michael Malone has gone into depth about during the season. Give me the Cavs to come out hot off of the All-Star break and secure a key win at home against the #1-seeded Nuggets.
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