The Denver Nuggets won both ends of their back-to-back for the first time in a while, defeating the Cleveland Cavaliers 121-108.

Nikola Jokić racked up his 86th triple-double of his career with 25 points, 15 rebounds, and 10 assists, a dominant performance from the two-time MVP. Jamal Murray chipped in 18 efficient points in his first back-to-back in a long time. The Nuggets had seven players in double figures, sharing the ball really well and putting players in position to succeed against a strong Cavaliers defense.

The Nuggets moved to 26-13 on the year, tying for the second best record in the league and leading the Western Conference.

Here are my takeaways from the Nuggets matchup with the Cavaliers on Friday night:

Nuggets offense is unstoppable

The Cleveland Cavaliers boast one of the top defenses in the NBA with a combination of Jarrett Allen and Evan Mobley that makes scoring around the rim extremely difficult. Against most teams, it proves insurmountable.

Against the Nuggets, it was just another obstacle to navigate, and they navigated it well. 121 points against the Cavaliers is difficult to do, and the Nuggets did it with ease. Jokić led the charge with a 25-point triple double on 10-of-17 from the field, hitting multiple three-pointers in the process.

The Cavaliers have allowed 120 points just seven times this season, and three of those games needed overtime to get there. The Nuggets were the eighth, and they showcased just how dominant their offense could be throughout the game.

“Nikola doesn’t see ‘Defensive Player of the Year’ guys. We’ve seen that a lot recently,” Malone emphasized. “It doesn’t matter who’s in front of him. He’s a great player, and he’s going to find a way to score and be efficient in doing so.”

The offense as a whole now ranks first in the NBA on Cleaning the Glass (which factors out garbage time). Denver also has the best offensive rating in the league against teams that are ranked in the top 10 in defensive rating. It’s becoming clear that Denver’s unstoppable on tht end of the floor when things are clicking, and Jokić helps along that process expeditiously.

The battle of the bigs was actually a war

Jarrett Allen and Evan Mobley are an awesome duo on both ends of the floor. Allen puts so much pressure on the rim as a roller and has a decent floater. He’s a fantastic rim protector on the other end. Mobley’s closer to a pterodactyl than a human with his wingspan and athleticism, which helps in everything that he does.

Jokić and Gordon had their hands full early. The Nuggets had to balance attacking the rim with settling for outside jumpers because of so much shot blocking presence in the paint. Both Jokić and Gordon found ways to get it done though, especially when they punished mismatches. Gordon was too big for other wings like Caris LeVert and Cedi Osman, making light work in instances when the bigs for the Cavs just couldn’t help.

On the other end, Allen and Mobley got theirs, but it was DeAndre Jordan who stepped in during the second half who helped stabilize the minutes Mobley was playing against the bench. The rim was better protected at that point with Jordan collecting two blocks, making sure the Nuggets didn’t let go of the rope in a game that was close to in hand.

“I gotta give DeAndre a lot of love tonight,” Malone told media postgame. “We’ve been going with Zeke Nnaji. Zeke’s been playing well…I told our coaches at halftime, we’ve given up 11 offensive rebounds in the first half, and DeAndre Jordan is probably our best defensive rebounder.”

Jamal Murray checks another box

Tonight was a big deal for Jamal Murray. He wasn’t perfect, and it looked like he was tired at the end, but this game marked the first back-to-back Murray has played since March 24th, 2021.

“I don’t know if you guys realized the magnitude of it, but this was a big, big step for Jamal and this team,” shared Malone. “Mentally, that’s gotta be so invigorating for him to say, ‘you know, I can do this.'”

Murray played 32 minutes tonight, scoring 18 points on 7-of-13 from the field and 2-of-5 from three. He added four rebounds, two assists, one steal, and two blocks. He was one of Denver’s two defensive players of the game for his efforts tonight, and he continues to play with more burst and aggression than he’s displayed for much of the season.

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