DENVER -- The defending champion Cleveland Cavaliers put their best foot forward as their last injured rotation piece, Kyle Korver, returned from a seven-game absence on Wednesday against the Nuggets.
Korver, who had been sidelined with a tendon issue in his left foot, assumed a spot in Cleveland's reserve unit and bumped J.R. Smith, who has played seven games since his return from right thumb surgery that cost him three months, back to the starting lineup in the team's 126-113 loss to Denver.
"I'm very excited," Lue said before the game. "I mean, we got some minute restrictions, but it's good to have everybody out on the floor, and you can start putting things in place now. So, it's good to have everybody back and try to finish these last 13 games getting some consistency and also finishing the season healthy."
Korver, who had an MRI on his foot Wednesday morning that cleared him when it showed the fluid buildup in his foot had dissipated, will have his minutes governed -- as will Kevin Love, who is only two games removed from arthroscopic surgery to his left knee that kept him sidelined for a month.
With Smith joining Love, LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson in the first five, the Cavs are playing the same starting group it used to beat the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals for the first time since December. The difference in Cleveland's 2016 championship team versus the team the Cavs will take into these playoffs is that the key bench pieces in Matthew Dellavedova, Timofey Mozgov and Dahntay Jones have been replaced by theoretical upgrades in Korver, Deron Williams and Derrick Williams.