GameDay Preview: Cavs at Suns

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Dion Waiters
Barry Gossage/NBAE/GettyImages

Game Summary

The Wine and Gold travel to Phoenix tonight to take on the Suns at 10:00 p.m. ET.

Cleveland (24-40) is 4-2 in their last six matchups with Western Conference opponents.

Since Feb. 8, the Cavs are holding teams to the 3rd-lowest FG% in the NBA (.431) as well as the 7th-lowest points per game (97.5).

Phoenix (36-27) enters tonight's contest looking to snap a two-game skid after falling to the L.A. Clippers 112-105 on Monday.

Probable Starters/Injury Report* presented by Cleveland Clinic

Cleveland ClinicCavaliers: PG - Kyrie Irving, SG - Jarrett Jack, SF - Luol Deng
PF - Tristan Thompson, C - Spencer Hawes

Suns: PG - Goran Dragic, SG - Gerald Green, SF - P.J. Tucker
PF - Channing Frye, C - Miles Plumlee

Status Update: (Cavs) - Carrick Felix, (Left patellar Stress Fracture, Out), Anderson Varejao, (Sore Back, Out), C.J. Miles, (Left Ankle Sprain, Out)

(Suns) - Eric Bledsoe, (Right Knee Arthroscopy, Day-to-Day), Leandro Barbosa, (Left Hand Fracture, Out), Emeka Okafor, (Herniated Disc, Out)

*Subject to change

Head-to-Head Matchup

In the first meeting between the two teams on Jan. 26 at The Q, Tristan Thompson (17 points, 13 rebounds) and Luol Deng (18 points, 10 rebounds) each registered double-doubles, while Kyrie Irving chipped in with a team-high 24 points, including 8-8 from the free throw line, a game-high nine assists and two steals in 37 minutes.

All-time, the Wine and Gold are 39-63 against Phoenix (27-24 Home, 12-39 Road).

Key to the Game/Key Matchup

Key to the Game

Crashing the Glass

On the season, Cleveland ranks 4th in the NBA in offensive rebounds per game at 12.6.

On the offensive glass, Tristan Thompson is pulling down a team-best 3.5 offensive rebounds per game, the 6th-most in the NBA (3rd in East).

If the Wine and Gold can continue to crash the glass and create easy second chance opportunities, they will give themselves an advantage in tonight's contest.

Key Matchup

Backcourt Battle

While the bigs battle for dominance in the paint, the backcourt battle will also be a key matchup that will determine the outcome of tonight's game.

Under rookie head coach, Jeff Hornacek, Suns point guard Goran Dragic has enjoyed a career season averaging 20.6 points and 6.2 assists.

Over last 34 games, Dragic has scored 20+ 22 times and is averaging 22.5 points, 6.4 assists, 3.7 rebounds, 1.5 steals and is shooting .531 from the field and .464 from distance.

Looking to match Dragic will be Cavs guards Dion Waiters and Kyrie Irving.

Since returning to action (three games), Dion Waiters is averaging 17.0 points on .500 (22-44) shooting, 2.7 rebounds and 1.0 steal in 23.0 minutes per game. On the season, Waiters is the highest scoring reserve in the Eastern Conference at 14.7 points per game and is on pace to becoming the highest scoring Cavs bench player since Hot Rod Williams in 1989-90 (16.9 ppg, minimum 20 games).

Against the Knicks on Saturday, Kyrie Irving had his 1st career game with at least 30 points, eight rebounds and eight assists. Over the last seven contests, Irving is averaging 24.6 points, 5.4 rebounds, 7.4 assists and 2.1 steals in 40.7 minutes per game.

Where to Catch the Action

TV: FOX Sports Ohio, Radio: WTAM 1100, NBA League Pass Audio, XM & Sirius 217

For live in-game updates, follow @cavs, @CavsJoeG, @CavsFredMcLeod, @MrCavalier34, @CavsJMike and @chones22 on Twitter.

Be sure to check cavs.com for Joe Gabriele's live in-game blog providing instant analysis and game notes. Plus, get into the discussion as die-hard Cavs fans talk about the game on CavFanatic's GameDay Thread.

On Deck

After tonight's game, the Cavs travel to Golden State on Friday to take on the Warriors at 10:30 p.m. ET.