Since these two superstars entered the league in the 2003 NBA draft they have been inseparable. Whether it is comparing their stats, shoe deals, countless other endorsements, success both on and off the basketball court, or head-to-head match-ups, Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James are always going to be linked.
But when it comes to their teams’ success against one another, so far Anthony and the Nuggets have gotten the best of the James and the Cavs. The Nuggets (4-3 this season) are 6-2 against the Cavaliers since the 2003 draft, with three of the wins coming in Denver.
But this is not the whole story.
While Anthony's Nuggets have had success against the Cavs, it's James who has put up better numbers in the series. James has averaged 22.0 points and 7.4 rebounds in the eight games between the teams while Anthony has averaged 19.3 points and 3.0 rebounds in seven of the meetings he has been a part of due to missing the first meeting last year because of suspension.
The Nuggets should come into this game well rested after returning from their four-game east coast road trip late Saturday night. On the other hand, Cleveland had to travel last night after a tough, come from behind, victory against the surprisingly strong Clippers. Tail ends of back-to-back games on the road are always tough, so I would like to see the Nuggets get out to a great start with their transition offense and keep the defensive pressure on the Cavs with as few lackadaisical stretches as possible.
The other area of concern that I have, (other than the Nuggets becoming their own worst enemy), is the Cavaliers relentless attack on the offensive boards. The Cavs are currently the fourth best offensive rebounding team in the league and it should come as no surprise as they have Big Z, Drew Gooden, and James who all love to crash the boards. The Nuggets on the other hand, (despite being one of the better rebounding clubs in the NBA with the ninth best overall rebounding clip in the league), are giving up the eighth most offensive boards on a nightly basis. Thus, leading me to predict that the team with the most second chance points is going to win this game.
Never mind that the Nuggets are averaging almost ten more points per game than the Cavs. Never mind that the Nuggets are allowing six points more on any given night than the Cavs are used to scoring. Never mind that Carmelo and LeBron are almost deadlocked in scoring. Just… Never mind. Tonight, the game will be decided by the bigs on the boards.
Time for Marcus, Kenyon, and the rest of the Nuggets front line, (and YES, that includes you, Carmelo) to out rebound the Cavaliers if they are to bring home the victory.
Big game tonight and The Nugg Doctor will be in the house!