The Denver Nuggets are aiming for an eight-game winning streak.
The Cleveland Cavaliers would be happy with back-to-back victories.
The Nuggets look to build on another dazzling performance from their bench as they try to continue their success against the Cavaliers on Wednesday night.
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Denver’s bench is making even more of an impact than usual during this run. The Nuggets’ reserves are second in the NBA with an average of 45.2 points, but they scored 72 in a 112-98 victory over Toronto to open this season-high six-game road trip Sunday and had 57 to power a 111-87 victory over Brooklyn on Tuesday.
“All we do, we just try to bring energy in the game and play hard. The harder you play, the more you stay on the court,” said reserve center Timofey Mozgov, who pulled down a career-high 20 rebounds while adding 17 points against the Nets.
“I want to stay on the court 49 minutes, but I know that’s not possible. But I want to stay on the court as much as possible, so I’m going to just push hard. That’s it.”
Mozgov averages 8.6 points and 6.3 rebounds, but he’s scored 33 and grabbed 35 boards over the last two games.
“It’s just a great deal for us and for him. He works extremely hard and he did a hell of a job going against their bigs,” said guard Nate Robinson, who is averaging 14.4 points off the bench over the last seven games.
Mozgov, though, may have his hands full with Andrew Bynum.
Bynum is a big reason Cleveland (5-12) is going for back-to-back wins for the first time. The 7-foot center had season highs of 20 points, 10 rebounds and five blocks in Saturday’s 97-93 win over Chicago, helping Cleveland end a five-game slide. It was Bynum’s best performance since missing all of last season with Philadelphia while recovering from surgery on both knees.
“It felt good,” Bynum said. “I won’t lie to you.”
The injuries nearly forced Bynum into retirement, but a meeting with the Nuggets (11-6) could continue his resurgence. He’s averaging 24.8 points and 11.8 rebounds over his last four matchups, including a 30-point performance in the most recent April 13, 2012, while with the Los Angeles Lakers.
Kyrie Irving surely appreciates Bynum’s presence in the paint.
“When you have someone you can throw it down to, you know he can get his shot when he wants,” the point guard said. “He draws so much attention. It opens up a lot of opportunities for all of us.”
Irving has averaged 24.0 points and 7.3 assists in three career meetings with Denver.
Dion Waiters, though, has totaled 21 points while making 7 of 19 shots in two matchups with the Nuggets. However, he enters this one averaging 21.7 points on 52.4 percent shooting – 7 for 15 from 3-point range – over the last three games.
The Nuggets have won six of the past seven meetings with the Cavaliers and three straight on the road while averaging 115.3 points. They had eight players score in double digits in a 111-103 victory in the most recent visit to Cleveland on Feb. 9.