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Keys to the Game: Cavaliers vs. Suns

Keys to the Game presented by: Key Bank


Red-Hot Suns

The Wine & Gold will try to get back to their winning ways, but that’ll be a tall order against the league’s hottest team – the Phoenix Suns, who roll into town on Wednesday night riding a 13-game win streak.

The Cavaliers come into the Thanksgiving eve matchup looking to snap a four-game funk – having dropped the first two games of their recent four-game homestand, including Monday night’s tight loss to the Nets at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.

Both Lauri Markkanen and Jarrett Allen returned to the lineup, and each made an immediate impact. Markkanen finished with 22 points and eight boards and Allen doubled-up with 20 points and a game-high 15 rebounds, nearly matching the Nets starting lineup by himself.

Darius Garland led Cleveland with 24 points on 9-for-27 shooting, adding a team-high 11 assists, but a fourth-quarter collision that sidelined the starting guard took a lot of steam out of the squad in the loss. Ricky Rubio pitched in with 16 points off the bench and Isaac Okoro added 15 points, four boards and a pair of steals.

The Suns tipped off a four-game trip with a four-point win over San Antonio on Monday night. Devin Booker led both teams with 23 points and Deandre Ayton doubled-up with 21 points and 14 boards. Cameron Payne added 20 points off the bench.

The Cavaliers wrap up the homestand on Saturday night when they welcome the Magic to Cleveland. From there, the Wine & Gold embark on a three-game roadie – traveling to Dallas, Miami and Washington D.C. next week.


History

The Cavs and Suns have a very recent history; Phoenix began its 13-game win streak against Cleveland back on October 30 in the Valley of the Sun – taking a nine-point decision and handing the Wine & Gold its last loss before a four-game win streak of their own.

Overall, the Suns hold a 68-48 edge in the all-time inter-Conference series – winning the last four straight before dropping eight consecutive decisions to the Cavaliers.

The all-time single-game rebound leader for the Suns is Lamar Green, who grabbed 22 boards in a 20-point Phoenix victory back in 1971. The Wine & Gold’s top man is the incomparable Zydrunas Ilgauskas, who snagged 22 of his own to go with 17 points in a low-scoring loss in 2002. Darius Miles doubled-up in the defeat; Ricky Davis led both teams with 21 points.


Connections

The Cavaliers have a few connections with the Suns – including a member of their coaching staff, Jarrett Jack, who spent the 2013-14 season with Cleveland, averaging 9.5 points per in 80 appearances. Phoenix assistant Randy Ayers also has a strong Buckeye State connection. He was born in Springfield, played his college ball at Miami (OH) and was the head coach of Ohio State from 1989-97 after serving as an assistant from 1984 to ’89.

Suns center JaVale spent 33 games with the Wine & Gold last season, forward Jae Crowder was with Cleveland for part of the 2017-18 before being dealt to Utah at the Trade Deadline and guard Cameron Payne had a brief nine-game stay with the Cavaliers back in 2018-19 before signing with Phoenix in the 2020 offseason.

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