INDEPENDENCE: The last time the Cavaliers traveled west, they won three of five games on the trip and resembled a team poised to make a run up the Eastern Conference standings.
Now they’re hoping for a repeat performance, but it won’t be easy. They’ll face the Phoenix Suns today to begin a trip that also includes games against the Golden State Warriors and Los Angeles Clippers — three teams with a combined winning percentage of .630.
The playoff implications are evident and most everyone is sick of talking about it — that includes reporters and players alike. And that obviously includes Kyrie Irving, who wasn’t even asked about the playoffs Tuesday and still managed to complain about it.
“I’m honestly getting tired of talking to you guys about this, because every game is meaningful at this point,” Irving said as part of an answer to a question regarding the Cavs’ struggles in the fourth quarter recently. “It’s going to be the same answer: It’s a great test. Great will. Means a lot. You’re probably going to get the three answers over the next five weeks. I’m excited.”
The trip begins against a Suns team that handed the Cavs one of their most painful losses of the season. The Cavs blew a 20-point lead in the first half and shot 2-for-22 against the Suns to fall 99-90 in late January.
That followed last season’s game at Phoenix, when the Cavs suffered their biggest collapse (at the time) in franchise history, blowing a 26-point lead before falling to the Suns at the buzzer.
As expected, Anderson Varejao participated in all of practice on Tuesday, but C.J. Miles did not. Miles has missed nine games with his severely sprained ankle, but is expected to play at some point on this trip.
“I don’t think it’s a setback” that Miles didn’t practice Tuesday, coach Mike Brown said. “It’s more precautionary than anything else.”
Guard Eric Bledsoe is expected to return today for the Suns after missing nine weeks with a knee injury. The Suns went 17-16 without him, falling out of the playoff chase in the West at least temporarily. They began Tuesday a half-game behind the Memphis Grizzlies for the final playoff spot. The Cavs are four games behind the Atlanta Hawks for the final playoff spot in the East with 18 games left.
“I’m never going to stop believing. I’m never going to play like this season is over,” Irving said. “I’m going to do anything to make this playoff push, anything coach needs me to do, anything my teammates need me to do, I’m willing to do.”
The Cavs assigned Sergey Karasev and Arinze Onuaku to the Development League. Both were expected to play in the Canton Charge’s home game tonight. Onuaku’s second 10-day deal expires at the end of the week. The team will be forced to either sign him for the rest of the season or let him walk away.
Jason Lloyd can be reached at email@example.com. Read the Cavs blog at http://www.ohio.com/cavs. Follow him on Twitter http://www.twitter.com/JasonLloydABJ. Follow ABJ sports on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.