The Denver Nuggets had won seven consecutive games coming into Wednesday night’s contest against the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Nuggets, playing without JaVale McGee, have been employing a lot of small-ball as of late to find their success, even with Timofey Mozgov seeing consistent minutes. However, small-ball was proven to be ineffective against the Cavs.
Cleveland pulled out a 98-88 victory over the Nuggets on Wednesday to improve to 6-12 on the 2013-14 NBA season. Kyrie Irving adding a big 23 points was a big part of their success, but much of their positive play in the contest was due to the fact that their frontcourt was completely dominant throughout the night.
Tristan Thompson shined the brightest as he put up 17 points, 21 rebounds and three blocks in 34 minutes on the floor. Not to be outdone, Andrew Bynum also added 14 points, seven rebounds and one block in 20 minutes while Anderson Varejao also put up 18 points, 13 rebounds, two steals and three blocks in 28 minutes of playing time.
The three main frontcourt players for Cleveland combined for 41 rebounds on the night on their way to out-rebounding the Nuggets 58-43 as a team. The Cavaliers big men were able to effectively negate the effects of small-ball by overpowering Denver on the boards and with offensive prowess in the post.
Obviously the Cavs have a talented frontcourt that can play against many different styles and roster compositions, but Cleveland also has the quickness and skill up front that really causes problems for teams playing small-ball against them. Small-ball isn’t something every opponent is going to throw at Cleveland, but if teams decide to do so, the Cavs should be able to take advantage of it on a regular basis.