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Clutch Feed: Cavs finally get what they want: the end of the regular season

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UPCOMING MILESTONES: If Kyle Korver makes more threes than Vince Carter and Jamal Crawford tonight – the final day of NBA games around the league for this regular season – he takes sole possession of fifth most threes in NBA history, breaking the current three way tie. J.R. Smith needs six more steaks to have made 900 in his career.

After 81 games, the Cavaliers currently sit with a record of 51-30 – good enough to guarantee the second seed at worst. With a Cavaliers win tonight, and a Celtics loss, Cleveland would be able to steal back the first seed in the Eastern Conference, but with the Big Three resting and the Celtics playing the Bucks – who are resting multiple players – it seems quite unlikely that the top two seeds will switch hands tonight. Up against the Cavaliers stands the Toronto Raptors, who are currently cemented in third place in the Eastern Conference. While the Cavaliers have lost six of their last ten, and have lost three straight, the Raptors have won eight of their last ten and are on a current three game winning streak.

This season, the Cavaliers have won all three previous matches against the Raptors. On October 28th, Kyrie Irving led the Cavaliers with 26 points to counter DeMar DeRozan’s 32 in route to a 94-91 victory. On November 15th, the Wine-and-Gold were spurred on by LeBron James’ 28 points, 9 rebounds, and 15 assists in a 121-117 contest despite Kyle Lowry’s own 28 points. Most recently, LeBron James once again took the lead as he dropped 34 points to match DeMar DeRozan’s 31, while Cleveland took a 116-112 lead.  Since the start of the 2014-15 season, the Cavaliers have won seven out of the ten total games between these two teams.

As a team, the Raptors tend to push the ball toward the basket – they average the third most drives per game (34.3) and the most points per game off of drives (24.1). With their 19.8 made free throws per game – third most in the league – they score a full 18.5% of their total points per game from the foul line, so the Cavaliers must be wary of causing shooting fouls. On defense, the Raptors play the ball well – they aver the fourth most steals per game with 8.3 and the fourth most deflections per game with 17.1. On two point shots, they have held their opponents 0.6% below their season average, but they have been slightly below average at defending shots from beyond the arc. With efficient bench lineups, the Raptors have had the third best Offensive Rating for bench players, outscoring opponents by 5.7 points per 100 possessions. Conversely, the Cavaliers bench has been outscored by 1.2 points per 100 possessions. With the Big Three out tonight, the typical Cavaliers’ bench and some of the deep rotation players will have to be rather productive in order to have a shot against the Raptors.

Key players to watch for on the Raptors will be Kyle Lowry (averaging 27.3 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 7.0 assists per game) and Jonas Valanciunas (averaging 12.0 points and 9.5 rebounds per game).

Tipoff is set for 8:00 EST and will be broadcast on FOX Sports Ohio.

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