Nuggets set to visit simmering Cavaliers (Mar 02, 2018)

March 2, 2018

CLEVELAND -- Twenty-nine NBA teams think throwing soup is hilarious.

The Cleveland Cavaliers aren't laughing, though.

"I'm just happy that nobody threw any soup at me," Denver Nuggets coach Mike Malone joked Friday, following a team dinner Thursday, according to the Denver Post.

The Cavs (36-25) host the Nuggets on Saturday in what will be JR Smith's first game since being suspended for throwing soup at Cleveland assistant coach Damon Jones after shootaround on Thursday.

Smith, who missed Cleveland's 108-97 loss to the Philadelphia Sixers on Thursday, is expected to start against the Nuggets. He declined to speak to reporters Friday at practice.

"I had a little discussion with him," Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue said, declining to disclose any further details on Smith.

The Cavs are just 2-3 since the All-Star break. All three losses have come at home, and they failed to score 100 points in any of those contests.

With four new players added and six sent out in trades on Feb. 8, Lue has decided to simplify the offense until everyone is on the same page.

"I feel good about this team," Lue said. "No doubt about it. We got a lot of young talent. We got a lot of good pieces. We're just trying to figure it out, put it together. I think we've only played seven games right now and those guys are still trying to figure it out.

"Our coaching staff, we're just trying to stay positive and just try to make it as simple as possible for those guys until we're able to catch on."

The Nuggets (34-28) beat the Memphis Grizzlies 108-102 on Friday to start a stretch of 11 of 15 games in March on the road.

The team gathered for dinner Thursday to set the tone for this current three-game trip. According to the Denver Post, the Nuggets shared fried catfish, ribs and other Southern cuisine.

The Southern cooking did them well. Paul Millsap, in his second game back after missing three months with wrist surgery, made his first start and finished with 15 points and seven rebounds. Gary Harris led the Nuggets with 26 points and Will Barton added 24 points off the bench.

"If we go into every game thinking every play is life and death, we're gonna be so (darn) nervous and tight," Malone said, according to the Post. "We don't play well when we're like that. Nobody does."

The Cavs are still missing All-Star center Kevin Love, who broke a bone in his left hand on Jan. 29. He was said at the time to be out for eight weeks.

Love is back on the court beginning shooting drills, and he's hopeful to return before the week of March 26 (the original target for return).

"If I can get back before eight weeks, great, so I'm hoping that that is the case," Love said. "One of the things I can do now is kind of catch the ball, guide it and shoot it within 12-15 feet, so that feels good to do something other than run on the treadmill or run on the bike. So it's nice."

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