Cleveland Cavaliers beaten by Miami without LeBron James and Kyrie Irving

"Can they give us the game back?"

It's time for the Cavaliers to get up.

The Heat rallied from an 11-point fourth-quarter deficit and then survived two four-point plays in overtime to beat the Cleveland Cavaliers 124-121 in another heart-pounding game to keep its playoff hopes alive.

LeBron James will sit out when the Cleveland Cavaliers face the visiting Toronto Raptors in their regular-season finale on Wednesday.

The Cavaliers, locked in a duel with the Boston Celtics for the top seed in the East, nevertheless rested stars LeBron James and Kyrie Irving in Miami. "It's just going to be a bigger challenge for us this year". They have the NBA's best record, the best overall talent and know anything short of an National Basketball Association title is a failed season. The last day of the regular season is the final day teams can sign a player and have them eligible for the playoffs.

"The most important thing for us is getting those guys some rest", Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue said. "We either got to put up or shut up, and I think we'll put up".

Heat shooting guard Josh Richardson was sensational on both ends of the court, going off for 19 points (8-of-14 from the field) to go along with six rebounds, an eye-opening five steals and four assists in 46 minutes of action.

Toronto was the only Eastern Conference team to demonstrate any measure of success against the Cavaliers in last year's playoffs, pushing Cleveland to a sixth game by wining twice on their own home floor.

The Celtics know that regardless of whether they nail down the Eastern Conference's No. 1 seed Wednesday with a win over Milwaukee or a Cleveland loss to Toronto, few believe they will actually deserve the status.

"They're the champs. They're the champs for a reason", said Toronto guard Kyle Lowry, who scored 13 points on Wednesday. Houston was hit with some injuries through the latter part of the season, but the Rockets will have their full rotation available to open the playoffs. "This is a heck of a time". The Cavs were also without Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson, and fell a game behind Boston for No. 1 in the East. Wearing a brace that he'll sport in the playoffs, Thompson scored 10 points in 18 minutes.

Cleveland also got its first look at newly signed 7-foot-3 center Edy Tavares, who blocked six shots and grabbed 10 rebounds. The Raptors aren't listing anyone as out right now, but DeMar DeRozan is battling an illness and listed as questionable. This team lost two starters and made it to The Finals and was two games away from winning a championship two years ago, and most of these same guys are the ones who did that.

If the team wants some instant offense, they can rely on Cory Joseph, Norman Powell and big man Jonas Valanciunas.

At this point, however, the struggling Cavs are just ready to start the postseason. It's going to be a tough road whether you're first seed, second seed or third seed. Dragic tied it for the Heat with a long jumper, Miami got a stop on the final Cleveland possession and to overtime they went. I'd say it's more likely than not that the Pacers pull off a win. Trust me, Jordan wouldn't have been sitting if his team needed a win, like theCavs needed one Monday night.

  • Julie Sanders