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- Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving (hyperextended right knee) will miss his second straight game, but remains listed as day-to-day. “I don’t know if we’ll see him Friday (against the Los Angeles Clippers), but I do know that would give him four days rest,” Cleveland coach Byron Scott said. The first-time NBA All-Star was injured in practice late last week, but played in Orlando and Miami before sitting out the Cavaliers’ 101-98 win Tuesday at the Bulls. Cleveland is 3-9 this season without Irving, who underwent an MRI in Chicago that confirmed there was no structural damage.
- With Irving sidelined, point guard Shaun Livingston makes his second start with the Cavaliers. Livingston, who scored a season-high 15 points Tuesday against the Bulls, was claimed off waivers from the Wizards on Christmas Day. “I’ve always been intrigued with Shaun,” Scott said. “He just seems to fit into our system very well, and he’s also probably as healthy as he’s been in this league.” The 27-year-old Livingston is averaging 5.3 points and 3.4 assists in 25 games with Cleveland.
- Joining Livingston in the Cavaliers’ lineup are rookie shooting guard Dion Waiters, small forward Alonzo Gee, power forward Tristan Thompson, and rookie center Tyler Zeller. “They may not have Irving, but our approach definitely cannot change — and will not change tonight,” Raptors coach Dwane Casey said. “Cleveland plays the same way without him, and Dion Waiters has really come in and taken Kyrie’s place as the attacker in the fourth quarter of games.”
- Toronto’s starters are point guard Kyle Lowry, shooting guard DeMar DeRozan, small forward Rudy Gay, power forward Amir Johnson, and rookie center Jonas Valanciunas. The Raptors are seeking their first four-game road winning streak since March 22-April 5, 2002 — and are 7-4 since Gay joined them in a trade from Memphis. “Toronto isn’t an athletic team, but they have two of the most athletic wings in the league in Rudy and DeRozan,” Scott said.
- The Cavaliers have 11 players in uniform as shooting guard Daniel “Boobie” Gibson has returned after a three-game absence for personal reasons. Cleveland small forward Omri Casspi (appendectomy) is resting at home after undergoing surgery Saturday in Orlando, while point guard Josh Selby (NBA D-League assignment with Canton Charge) and center Anderson Varejao (season-ending right knee surgery) are inactive.
- Raptors small forward Linas Kleiza (right knee soreness) is sitting out his 28th straight contest, while small forward Mickael Pietrus is a healthy scratch for the second game in a row. Toronto enters the evening five games behind Milwaukee in the race for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. “That’s our goal,” Casey said. “Everybody’s goal should be the playoffs.”
– Brian Dulik