CLEVELAND — The Cleveland Cavaliers just want the regular season to end.
They’ll get their wish at the conclusion of Wednesday’s finale at home against the Toronto Raptors, whom they could face in the second round of the Eastern Conference playoffs.
“I think everyone’s just ready for the regular season to be done,” Cavs guard Kyle Korver said after Cleveland lost its third game in a row, 124-121 in overtime to the Miami Heat, on Monday.
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“I think we’ve shown when we’re focused that we can be a really good team. And, when we’re not (focused), we’re not a very good team. But I think we’re just ready for Wednesday to come and go and get ready for the weekend.”
The Cavs’ defense of their 2016 NBA championship has not gone as planned. Injuries, roster turnover and a general malaise that has gripped this team since March 1 knocked Cleveland out of first place in the East.
The Cavs trail the Boston Celtics by one game. They need to beat Toronto and have the Celtics lose to Milwaukee on Wednesday. If that happens, Cleveland will retain the No. 1 seed. But momentum seems to be carrying the Cavs in the wrong direction.
“I think just the idea of getting locked in and having a do-or-die type mentality, knowing that we can be sent home, I think that has a good calling for this team,” Cavs forward Kevin Love said. “I think we need that right now; and, having one game left in the regular season, yeah, I think we’re ready to get this over with and then it will be go time.
“I’m definitely confident in this team, but you never like having to think that you have to flip a switch.”
The Cavs’ three-game losing streak includes consecutive losses to the Hawks — one at home on a night when Atlanta sat all of its starters and the other a blown 26-point lead.
On Monday, with LeBron James and Kyrie Irving out, the Cavs built leads of 13 and 11 points against the Heat and couldn’t hold them.
Cleveland fell to 0-7 on nights when James doesn’t play. He has already been ruled out against the Raptors. Irving and center Tristan Thompson might join him on the bench.
Thompson (thumb) snapped a streak of 447 games played last Wednesday in Boston and hasn’t played since Tuesday against the Orlando Magic.
The Cavaliers reportedly will make several roster moves Wednesday, cutting Larry Sanders and signing D-Leaguer Edy Tavares and veteran guard Dahntay Jones.
Sanders, the once-promising forward-center who left pro basketball two years ago, appeared in five games for the Cavs. Jones will take the spot on Cleveland’s roster vacated by DeAndre Liggins, who was waived Sunday.
Tavares played most of this season for Toronto’s D-League affiliate and averaged 10.6 points and 2.7 blocks.
The Raptors are locked into the third seed. Both Toronto and Cleveland have multiple potential opponents for their first-round matchups; but, if the Cavs finish second and both teams advance to the conference semifinals, they would meet in the postseason for the second consecutive year.
Cleveland beat Toronto in six games in the 2016 Eastern Conference finals before winning the NBA Finals in seven games against the Golden State Warriors.
“We still gotta beat Cleveland. They’re the champs,” said Raptors guard Kyle Lowry, who returned April 5 after missing 21 games due to wrist surgery. “It ain’t (different) until someone knocks the champs off.”
The Raptors have listed their usual starting five, with Lowry, Demar DeRozan, Jonas Valanciunas, Serge Ibaka and DeMarre Carroll against the Cavaliers, even though Toronto’s playoff footing won’t change regardless of the outcome.
“It’s really good to play, and we decided we were going to play no matter what this time of year,” Lowry said via the Toronto Star. “We felt the last few years we started off in the playoffs slower because we didn’t play and go (hard) our last couple of games.”