What if the Cavs were one of the good surprises at the start of the season? On the floor of Denver, Cleveland played on its strengths and achieved a full game, with a good start and a collective that was able to resist the return of the premises to snatch the victory, the second in a row.
The Nuggets were warned from the first seconds of the opposing intentions following this monumental poster dunk by Lauri Markkanen from the start to launch hostilities, followed by a big baseline dunk signed Isaac Okoro (13-15). After a 3-point from Darius Garland to complete the first act (24-29), it was the Love-Allen pair who, each in their own register, allowed Cleveland to keep control at the break (46-50) .
At 3 points, the winger of the “Tall Ball” of the Cavs quickly passed the gap to +11 after the locker room (48-59). The locals then responded with the trio Barton-Porter Jr-Gordon, also from afar (61-64). Denver managed to equalize in stride thanks to a 2 + 1 from Nikola Jokic at the end of the period (70-70). Not enough to shake Cleveland.
JB Bickerstaff’s troops continued to exploit their “match-ups”, notably thanks to their size, relying on Lauri Markkanen and Evan Mobley, while Collin Sexton sanctioned from afar for contributing to a 19-3 in order to bring the mark to 73-87 after only three minutes of play in the fourth quarter.
In preferential position, the Cavs did not crack, Ricky Rubio leading his team until the victory with a master hand, the finish or the pass. After a last dunk signed Bol Bol, Denver lost 99 to 87.
WHAT YOU MUST REMEMBER
– The “Tall Ball” works. Cleveland started in their new setup, with three greats: Lauri Markkanen on the wing, Evan Mobley on the strong winger and Jarrett Allen on the pivot. The size and dominance of the Cavs indoors has been an issue all night long for Denver, as has performances from Kevin Love and Jarrett Allen.
– The perfectly managed end of the game for the Cavs. The locals thought perhaps they had done the hard part by coming back to 70-70 at the end of the third quarter. It was without counting on the lucidity of the Cavs who never gave in to the pressure and who were able to start again by relying on their strengths, with his pair Mobley-Allen first and then thanks to the maestria of Ricky Rubio to finish. Result: a 19-3 and victory at the end.
– The Nuggets are still looking for each other. Struggling in the preseason, Denver had managed to correct the situation by taking the first two games. But some of the flaws in Mike Malone’s group resurfaced in this meeting against Cleveland. After conceding 20 and 17 lost balls, the premises have this time seen this figure rise to 21 against the Cavs. The Nuggets not only lacked mastery, but also a conductor to lead it all, obviously referring to the absence of Jamal Murray.
✅ Jarrett Allen. The lanky pivot grabbed all the crumbs to punish the Nuggets almost every time (10/11 shooting). A formidable weapon of massive deterrence in painting, Jarrett Allen delivered his best face, all without neglecting the spectacle.
✅ Kevin Love. The “historic” interior of the Cavs, the last survivor of the 2016 title, still has it in its legs. Author of a big first half, Kevin Love also played his role, as a veteran stabilizer and bringing serenity to the rest of the group through his science of the game.
⛔ Guard of Nikola Jokic. Behind the MVP of last season (24 points, 19 rebounds, 3 assists), Denver has found no one to ensure a sufficiently effective relay. Whether with the Barton-Porter Jr-Gordon trio of the five major, none of which exceeded 12 points or on the bench, widely opened by Mike Malone (15 players used) and who also failed to to weigh.
THE FIRST FOR PETR CORNELIE
While the outcome of the meeting was no longer in doubt, at +15 for the Cavs, Petr Cornelie took the opportunity to play his very first minutes in the NBA. 3 minutes from the end, the French, in “two-way contract” with the Nuggets, has replaced Nikola Jokic. A necessarily special moment for the former Pau, who however did not score.
Cleveland (2-2) : the Cavs will now prepare for the coming of the Clippers tomorrow night.
Denver (2-1) : back-to-back for the Nuggets, expected tonight in Utah.