The Eastern Conference-leading Cleveland Cavaliers are riding a five-game winning streak and have just five games to play before the calendar flips to 2016, including a four-game trip out West.
The season may be 25 games old, but the Cavaliers (18-7) are just getting fully healthy. Cleveland welcomed back point guard Kyrie Irving in Sunday’s 108-86 win over Philadelphia, his first action since fracturing his knee cap in Game 1 of the 2015 NBA Finals.
"Kind of been a long, long road, but finally getting out there with my teammates was a pleasure," Irving told reporters after the game. With Irving back, the Cavaliers are as healthy as they’ve been since the conference quarterfinals of last year’s playoffs.
On Wednesday, the Cavaliers will play their final home game of 2015 when they host the New York Knicks (14-15) at Quicken Loans Arena. New York has won four of five and gone 7-7 on the road so far this season. These two teams have met twice already, with Cleveland winning 96-86 on Nov. 4 and 90-84 on Nov. 13.
Christmas Day’s marquee matchup will be the first of four games in five days for Cleveland. The long-awaited NBA Finals rematch with the Golden State Warriors may also serve as a preview of the 2016 Finals. The Cavaliers’ win in Game 3 was Golden State's last loss prior to the Milwaukee Bucks snapped their streak on Dec. 12. The Warriors began the season with an NBA-record 24 consecutive wins and are No. 1 in the Western Conference with a 26-1 mark. The game will also pit 2014-15 Most Valuable Player Stephen Curry against four-time MVP LeBron James.
Cleveland continues their road trip the next night in Portland where they will take on the 11-19 Trail Blazers in the second game of a back-to-back. Portland is 2-7 their last nine games and losers of four straight but take on New Orleans before the tilt with Cleveland. The Cavs hosted Portland on Dec. 8, and were able to edge the Blazers, 105-100.
Two days later, the Phoenix Suns (12-18) welcome the Cavs to town in the first of two meetings this year. Phoenix has lost four out of their last five and allowed 100 points or more in eight of nine games. The Suns are 4-9 in December and play two games before the defending Eastern Conference champs visit.
The final leg of the road trip and last game of 2015 for Cleveland comes the next night in Denver against the Nuggets (11-16). Denver is 5-4 in December after ending November on a seven-game losing streak. In every one of their 11 wins, the Nuggets have surpassed 100 points. Denver is 0-12 in games they’ve scored less than 100 points while Cleveland is 5-5 in such games.
Here is a look at the Cavaliers year-end schedule, and NBA TV may also provide live in-game coverage during nightly broadcasts.
Wednesday, Dec. 23 vs. New York (MSG, Fox Sports Ohio)
Friday, Dec. 25 at Golden State (ABC)
Saturday, Dec. 26 at Portland (Fox Sports Ohio, KGW)
Monday, Dec. 28 at Phoenix (Fox Sports Ohio, Fox Sports Arizona)
Tuesday, Dec. 29 at Denver (Fox Sports Ohio, ALT)