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- The Raptors lead Brooklyn by two games in the Atlantic Division and sit third in the Eastern Conference standings – .002 ahead of fourth-place Chicago — with 13 contests to play. “We’re not going to out-talent anybody,” Raptors coach Dwane Casey said flatly. “But when we play quality basketball, play hard, play desperate, and play together, then we’re a quality team.” Toronto’s magic number for clinching its first playoff berth since 2008 is three (combination of Raptors wins and Knicks losses). The Raptors are 32-18 since Dec. 9, which is the third-best record in the East during that timeframe.
- Toronto’s starters are point guard Kyle Lowry, All-Star shooting guard DeMar DeRozan, small forward Terrence Ross, power forward Amir Johnson, and center Jonas Valanciunas. Eighth-year pro Lowry is averaging 22.6 points and 7.9 assists, while shooting .410 on 3-pointers over the last eight games. “This the first time in his career where Kyle has been able to say, ‘Hey, this is my team,’” Casey said. “That makes a big difference in terms of confidence, and I think it shows in how much improvement he has made.”
- The Cavaliers have lost a season-high five straight home games and are just 15-20 at Quicken Loans Arena. Cleveland’s starters are point guard Jarrett Jack, shooting guard Dion Waiters, small forward Luol Deng, power forward Tristan Thompson, and center Spencer Hawes. That quintet made its debut Sunday in the Cavaliers’ 106-100 victory at New York, where Jack scored a season-high 31 points. “Cleveland is playing good basketball right now,” Casey said. “They’ve been right in every game of late.”
- Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving (left biceps strain), shooting guard C.J. Miles (left ankle sprain), rookie power forward Anthony Bennett (left patellar tendon strain), rookie small forward Sergey Karasev (right knee tendonitis), and rookie shooting guard Carrick Felix (left patellar stress fracture) remain out. Irving was injured on March 16 at the Clippers and will have his status updated next week. “All of our guys are getting closer, but I can’t put a timeline on it,” Cleveland coach Mike Brown said.
- Raptors power forward Patrick Patterson (right ulnar collateral sprain) will miss his 10th consecutive game, but was cleared to resume contact practices Monday. Patterson, who was hurt on March 7 against Sacramento, is averaging 9.7 points and 5.2 rebounds in 39 games with Toronto. Rookie point guard Dwight Buycks is the Raptors’ other inactive.
– Brian Dulik