Did you know heading into their matchup against the Denver Nuggets, the Cleveland Cavaliers were the ninth-best defensive rebounding team in the league at 33.8 defensive rebounds per game? Meanwhile, did you know that the Cavs also allow the fifth-most second-chance opportunities in the league at 12.4 opponent offensive rebounds per game?

It's a weird duality, especially considering how Cleveland has two star-caliber big men in their rotation with Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen. When asked about it, Cavs head coach J.B. Bickerstaff credits his team's overall defensive effort, which tracks considering Cleveland allows 111.4 points per 100 possessions per game. But, when facing a team like the defending champion Nuggets, a relatively pedestrian offensive rebounding team despite having Nikola Jokic, Aaron Gordon and so many others, one of the more prominent defensive flaws for the Cavs could be exposed – especially when Denver ranks toward the top in the NBA in offensive rebounds allowed.

Well, whatever hadn't been working for Cleveland when rebounding hit Denver like a ton of bricks. Instead of the Nuggets, the Cavs looked like the more physically imposing teams, imposing their will on the backboards, keeping Denver from building momentum and gaining second-chance opportunities. Cleveland grabbed eleven offensive rebounds, above the Nuggets' average allowance of 10.0 per game. More impressively, the Cavs scored 19 points off those extra chances with Mobley, Allen, Tristan Thompson and even Max Strus pestering Denver all game long.

Mind you, this isn't some new revelation for the Cavs either. It's been something that Bickerstaff and Cleveland's coaching staff have made a point of emphasis all season. Before the game, Bickerstaff shared that he had met and spent time with Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo over the summer to better understand the art of rebounding. Bickerstaff surmised after his time in East Lansing after his time with the Spartans that Cleveland had to embrace the mantra of “clean rebounding.” This meant that instead of flailing and fighting to control the boards, the Cavs would have to impose their will immediately and never let up on their opponent.

Cavs control the glass

Cavs' Jarrett Allen, Evan Mobley show the lights weren't too bright in win over Warriors

The Cavs made it a point of emphasis to throw at least two bodies at Jokic (who still flirted with a triple-double) constantly, keeping him from having an even more overwhelming impact. There were points in the second half that Allen alone would get the better of the less athletic Jokic, and by the midway point of the third quarter, Cleveland's lead had ballooned to 20 points. After that, the Cavs never really looked back.

More impressively, the Cavs only allowed the Nuggets to grab nine offensive rebounds and for Denver to score four points off of them. Overall, Cleveland outrebounded their opponent 46-31, limiting the Nuggets to numerous one-and-done opportunities on offense, totally throwing off Denver's offensive flow.

After a topsy-turvy start to the year, this was a gut-check matchup against the defending champions without Donovan Mitchell, this was Cleveland's most complete win of the season. Considering that the Knicks murdered the Cavs on the offensive boards last season and ultimately ended their season, seeing Cleveland internalize what hurt them and making it their strength is encouraging. Sure, the returns on the season are still early and no one should crown the Cavs as one of the league's best overall rebounding teams. But Cleveland was able to set the tone early into the game with their physical rebounding and never relented. This win marks the third in a row for the Cavs and, for now, it looks like they're starting to turn a corner into the team everyone expected them to be.