NBA on ABC and ESPN Odds: Cleveland Cavs at Denver Nuggets

Cleveland at Denver
Spread: DEN -17
Total: 219

Odds c/o 5dimes


At the midway point of the 2018-19 season, the Denver Nuggets have won a Western Conference-best 44 games. With just 14 losses, the team sits atop the division and conference and though it lost its last outing to the lowly Phoenix Suns 93-102, the Nuggets have been rolling. It trails the Golden State Warriors by just one game for the Western Conference No. 1 seed.

Key behind its unorthodox attack is the play of “point-center” Nikola Jokic. The Nuggets run its offense through its talented 5-man, and Jokic leads all centers in assists per game at 7.5 per game. Adding that to his 19.2 points and 10.2 rebounds per game produce a team-best PER of 26.1 as Jokic is quietly one of the league’s best big men. His strong passing abilities enable the Nuggets to play Jamal Murray at the point guard position where he ranks No. 2 on the team in scoring at 18.3 points per game. The Nuggets have been without Will Barton the majority of the season, too, which is no small loss as he is the team’s No. 3 offensive option.

Oddly, Paul Millsap’s role has declined heavily this season and the former All-Star is averaging under 13 points per game. The Nuggets have a deep rotation of talented scorers and average 110.3 points per game with six players averaging double-figures. Among those are Monte Morris at 10.0 points per game and Malik Beasley nearly at 9.8 per game. Both are talented guards that are finally receiving their chances in the Denver Nuggets backcourt following the jettisoning of one-time Nugget Emmanuel Mudiay.

Denver also is able to go into its second unit and produce a similar style play given the talents of backup center Mason Plumlee. He functioned as a point-center of sorts while in Portland and he averages 2.4 assists per game in under 20 minutes of play. The Nuggets have a legitimate 9 or 10-man rotation and with Jokic it truly possesses a franchise player capable of making game-changing plays and having phenomenal nightly performances. Not many are still sleeping on what the Nuggets might be capable of in the 2019 postseason.


The Cleveland Cavaliers have lost its last two and nine of its last 10, and now it will be without Larry Nance for the next 2-3 weeks. Though Nance averages just eight points and seven boards, the Cavs are not resplendent in talent to replace his services, and his intangibles. Ultimately, the team is not winning anyway. But it just one more thing to go wrong in this rebuilding season that ultimately will see Cleveland likely finish with the worst mark in the Association.

The Cavs fans can turn their attention to a talented draft class, but as for this season, the theme will continue to be developing the existent young talents on this roster and trying to find a semblance of chemistry between rookie Collin Sexton and the several notable offensive talents the Cavs still possess. Kevin Love is still good for 19 points and 11 rebounds a game, but he is never going to be back to the level of production he showed in Minnesota before Joining LeBron James.

Jordan Clarkson and Rodney Hood are both good scorers, but neither should be a team’s No. 2 and No. 3 options—not if the goal is winning basketball games. Sexton has been everything the Cavaliers hoped he would be, but he still is facing the typical issues of rookie point guards, which includes hardly getting any calls. Tristan Thompson is averaging a double-double, but it is clear he has capped his potential and is a role player at best. The Cavaliers will simply hope that a talent such as Zion Williamson can change its fate when it drafts in the summer. Because there is precious little to be gained from a season derailed by not only injuries but a sheer lack of talent with the subtraction of James, who simply made a lot of rag-tag performers play far above their usual levels. Remove the best player in the game, and this team is right where most figured it would be, in the cellar.

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