How far along are Cavs? Well, here’s a good way to find out
Five quick random hits on the Cavaliers, who face the red-hot Denver Nuggets on Wednesday at The Q (7 p.m., FOX Sports Ohio):
1. This is a nice test for the Cavs, as the Nuggets have won seven straight. That includes a hammer job of the Brooklyn Nets on the Nets’ home floor Tuesday. The Cavs (5-12) are coming off a win over the Chicago Bulls. This game is at home. The Nuggets (11-6) played Tuesday night. This is a game in which the Cavs should have the edge. But as we’ve seen too often this season, none of that really matters.
2. The Nuggets have capable big men and some lightning-fast guards. Like the Cavs under Mike Brown, the Nuggets have a first-year coach in Brian Shaw. Point guard Ty Lawson has been fantastic, and if the Cavs want to work on defense (they do), their ability to keep Lawson out of the lane will be a good assessment of how far they’ve come — or how far they have to go.
3. And where did this Timofey Movgov character come from all of a sudden? Movgov is a 7-footer who was once known for little more than being soft and getting dunked on by Los Angeles Clippers star Blake Griffin. But things have obviously changed. Movgov has come off the bench to dominate opposing backup bigs. He erupted for 17 points and a whopping 20 rebounds vs. the Nets. He’s very athletic, intelligent and is sneaky near the basket. It will be interesting to see how Cavs big men Andrew Bynum, Anderson Varejao, Tristan Thompson and others match up. If Movgov goes bananas, it could be a long night.
4. In fact, the Nuggets possess the second-highest scoring bench in the league. As the Nets found out, things can get away from you quickly. The Cavs almost lost a 20-point lead against the Minnesota Timberwolves at home. They fell behind the Washington Wizards by 27 –also at home. The Nuggets are more explosive than either of those teams. But if the Cavs can play the gritty, grind-it-out style they displayed for most of the night vs. the Bulls, they’ll have a chance. If there’s one thing the Nuggets don’t like, it’s physical play.
5. Kyrie Irving will have to keep Lawson and reputed Cavs-killer Nate Robinson occupied by staying aggressive and taking care of the ball, just as Irving did against the Bulls (he committed zero turnovers in 39 minutes). The Cavs also must get the ball to Bynum in his sweet spots. They did that for the first time all season Saturday, and the big man responded with season-highs of 20 points and 10 boards (in a season-high 30 minutes). Bynum also finished with a season-high five blocked shots. With the Nuggets’ success at getting to the rim, a similar performance from Bynum sure would help things.
Bonus hit: Don’t forget, I’ll be taking your Cavs and NBA questions today at noon ET. Join me at FOXSportsOhio.com, and I’ll try to address your concerns (and trade scenarios) as best as I can. Talk to you then.