CLEVELAND -- Even with the No. 1 spot in the Eastern Conference hanging in the balance, the Cleveland Cavaliers are favoring rest ahead of the playoffs over potential home court advantage in the conference finals.
The Cavaliers (51-29) have elected to sit small forward LeBron James and point guard Kyrie Irving for tonight’s road finale against the Miami Heat at American Airlines Arena in Miami after an overtime loss to the Atlanta Hawks Sunday afternoon.
Currently, the Cavaliers hold the top spot in the East by virtue of a tiebreaker with the Boston Celtics, but should they lose once and Boston win twice over the next three days, Cleveland would slip to the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference heading into the playoffs, which get underway this weekend.
This season, James is averaging 26.4 points, 8.6 rebounds, 8.7 assists and 1.2 steals in 37.8 minutes of play over 74 games.
James has 13 double-doubles of points and rebounds and another 16 of points and assists for a Cavaliers team that won the Central Division for the third straight time this season. Also, James has tallied 13 triple-doubles this season, including seven since March 1.
Fully healthy entering the season after two years of dealing with knee issues, Irving has averaged 25.2 points, 3.2 rebounds and 5.8 assists in 35.1 minutes of play over 72 games. Irving has converted 47.3 percent of his looks from the field and 40.1 percent of his three-point tries, both of which are well above his career averages.
The Cavaliers (51-29) play the regular-season finale against the Toronto Raptors at Quicken Loans Arena Wednesday.