Cavaliers favor rest over position, lose last game
CLEVELAND — Jonas Valanciunas made his first career 3-pointer and the Toronto Raptors closed the regular season with a 98-83 win on Wednesday night over the Cleveland Cavaliers, who didn’t play their “Big 3” All-Stars so they’re playoff ready.
Norman Powell scored 25 points as the Raptors beat the Cavs for the first time in four tries this season. Cleveland took Toronto down in six games in last year’s Eastern Conference finals.
Although there was still a chance to secure the No. 1 seed in the East, the Cavs put more value on rest and sat LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love. Cleveland fell to 0-4 in games this season without the trio and 0-8 minus James.
The Cavs did get forward Tristan Thompson back after he missed four games with a sprained right thumb. Wearing a brace that he’ll sport in the playoffs, Thompson scored 10 points in 18 minutes. Cleveland also got its first look at newly signed 7-foot-3 center Edy Tavares, who blocked six shots and grabbed 10 rebounds.
The Raptors, too, chose to keep legs fresh as All-Star forward DeMar DeRozan (flu-like symptoms) and Serge Ibaka watched.
This game looked more like a preseason exhibition than a matchup between two of the league’s top teams. Both Toronto coach Dwane Casey and Cleveland’s Tyronn Lue opted to get players off their feet and played reserves after halftime.
James, who will attempt to get to his seventh straight Finals in the coming weeks, stayed in street clothes while Irving and Love wore their warmups for Cleveland’s final home game. It was a somewhat fitting ending to the 82-game schedule for the Cavs, who at times seemed bored with the regular season and also endured injuries and roster upheaval.