It was difficult to put a header photo on this post because, well, we're not entirely sure who is actually going to play in tonight's Raptors-Cavaliers game. It's the last day of the regular season and only one of these teams has something to play for -- and they don't seem to care about that something.
Yes, the Cavaliers have to win tonight -- and watch the Boston Celtics lose -- to reclaim the Eastern Conference's top seed. That's the only story in tonight's game that means anything, even if Cleveland seems content to punt the idea. The Raptors are locked into third and will play the Bucks in the first round. Presumably Toronto would like Cleveland to win (and Boston to lose) so the Raps could avoid seeing the Cavaliers again until a presumable Conference finals rematch. It'd be a nice outcome -- though the way the Cavs are playing, it may be worth it to take a shot at them as soon as possible before they reach peak playoff form.
For this game, LeBron James will not play. Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love will join him on the bench. Tristan Thompson is apparently going to give it a go, after sitting a few games. Presumably everyone else on the Cavs is also good to go, including new additions Dahntay Jones and former member of the Raptors 905, Walter Tavares.
For the Raptors, DeMar DeRozan has been ruled out with an actual illness -- not just "flu-like symptoms." It means Norman Powell will likely play a bunch, which is fine since he's been in a bit of a minutes crunch as of late and you could use the run.
Speaking of which, Kyle Lowry will probably get some minutes tonight too, if only to continue to get him back up to speed with the team's rotations and his new teammates. Lowry has had to adjust to Serge Ibaka in the starting lineup (who, coincidently will rest tonight), and some new "Lowry plus bench" groups that have featured Jonas Valanciunas (instead of Lucas Nogueira or Jakob Poeltl). We'll see how many minutes Lowry gets, and how much rest he's earned after missing 21 games due to injury.
Anyway, here's your preview for the game from Matthew Teague. And, finally: let's just get this game done and in the books with no injuries. The playoffs await (as do the comments).