CLEVELAND — The Cavaliers are closer to being at full strength.
Forwards Larry Nance Jr., Tristan Thompson, and Rodney Hood all returned from injuries on Friday night (Saturday, Manila time) as Cleveland, which has been riddled with injuries all season, hosted the Phoenix Suns. Acting coach Larry Drew said none of the players will start and all will be on minutes' restrictions.
Drew, who is filling in while coach Tyronn Lue is on leave to address his own health, plans to keep his starting lineup intact and ease the returning players into the rotation.
LeBron James, Jose Calderon, George Hill, Jeff Green and Kevin Love were scheduled to started against Phoenix, which has lost nine in a row. Drew said he and Lue will talk again Saturday about lineup changes for the upcoming trip to Brooklyn, Miami and Charlotte.
"I really didn't want to disrupt the starting five that we have out there right now and those guys will be playing limited minutes, so I wanted to get them slowly back and acclimated to what we're doing," Drew said. "There's a chance that there could be some early substitutions to get the guys in there. I'm not ruling that out, but right now I just kind of want to stay with the flow, stay with what we've done the last couple of ballgames and then we'll probably after tonight we'll see as far as where we stand as far as starters are concerned."
Thompson missed nine games with a sprained right ankle, Nance Jr. was out four with a hamstring issue and Hood was out the past three games with a bad back.
Drew said he did not know if Lue will accompany the team on its trip.
But while the Cavs are healthier than they've been in weeks, the team is still missing Kyle Korver, who is with his family in Iowa following the death of his brother, and rookie Cedi Osman, who is sidelined with a left hip flexor strain.