Cavaliers vs. Nuggets Odds, Pick, Prediction: Grab the Under in Denver

Cavaliers vs. Nuggets Odds, Pick, Prediction: Grab the Under in Denver article feature image

Bart Young/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Nikola Jokic #15 of the Denver Nuggets, Jarrett Allen #31 of the Cleveland Cavaliers.

  • The Denver Nuggets will face the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday in the second night of a back-to-back.
  • The Cavaliers won't have Donovan Mitchell, who is expected to rest tonight.
  • Chris Baker explains why the value is on the over/under.

Cavaliers vs. Nuggets Odds

Cavaliers Odds+6.5
Nuggets Odds-6.5
Time9 p.m. ET
TVNBA League Pass
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.

The Denver Nuggets will look to keep their dominant play going on a back to back against an elite Cleveland Cavaliers defense. The Cavs will be without their leader, Donovan Mitchell, for this one but they will have a rest advantage over this Nuggets team here.

Who has the edge for this one? Let's break it down.

Cleveland's Offense Will Stall Without Donovan Mitchell

The Cavs are coming off a hard-fought win against the Suns and they will have a one-day rest advantage here. They won’t have is Donovan Mitchell as the team has opted to rest him for this game. Darius Garland has a chance to play, but is currently listed questionable with a thumb injury.

With no Mitchell and potentially no Garland, we should expect this Cavs offense to stall against an improving Nuggets defense. Mitchell essentially is the Cavs' only rotation player who pushes tempo in transition as he ranks in the 98th percentile of transition offensive rating swing when he is on the court, per Cleaning the Glass. A lot of what makes the Cavaliers good offensively is their ability to exert pressure on the rim. With Mitchell out, they should be forced to operate in the half court and in the midrange area of the floor more often.

I would recommend waiting for Garland news before placing any bets on the Cleveland side here. If Garland is ruled out that would leave this Cavs team without their two primary ball-handlers and highest usage players.

Defensively, the Cavs should be able to hold up regardless of whether Garland and Mitchell play. Garland and Spida are both negative impact defenders, so their absence would likely benefit the Cavs on this side of the ball. Jarrett Allen is one of the few defenders in the NBA who is strong, mobile, and intelligent enough to defend Nikola Jokic competently in my opinion.

Alongside Allen, the Cavs also have young Evan Mobley who has the length and timing to disrupt the Nuggets cutters in the paint. As long as Allen can avoid foul trouble we should see a valiant effort from the Cavs on defense as they try to contain this second-ranked Nuggets offense.

Will Denver's Offense Slip on the Back-to-Back?

The Nuggets are coming off a complete and total annihilation of the Clippers last night. This is a back-to-back but most starters played fewer than 25 minutes in the blowout, so fatigue shouldn’t be a massive factor. Denver also has a clear health advantage over this Cleveland roster as no key Nuggets are currently being listed as questionable.

The Nuggets have been absolutely rolling over these past few weeks as they have beaten a number of quality teams in dramatic fashion. The Cavs certainly qualify as a challenging opponent as they currently rank third in Adjusted Net Rating and first in Adjusted Defensive Rating according to Dunks And Threes.

This will be one of the toughest defenses that Denver has faced all season and it will be interesting to see how Jokic performs against the twin-towers of Mobley and Allen down low.

Cavaliers-Nuggets Pick

With no Mitchell and potentially no Garland I have to lean under 222.5 here. The line being just +6.5 indicates to me that Garland is probably playing, but at 222.5 I think we are still getting value on this total as both of these teams rank below average in pace.

The Nuggets are 19th in pace while the Cavs rank dead-last averaging about 95.8 possessions per game. You factor that pace in with the reality that these are two top-3 defensive rebounding teams in the league and I expect that we will see a lot of stops and half-court possessions.

The Cavs should operate at a much slower pace without their leader Donovan Mitchell. Take the under 222.5 here and play it down to 221.

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