CLEVELAND — On the last day of the regular season, the Cavaliers lost a game, released a player, added two others, rested LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love, welcomed back Tristan Thompson and finished with the second seed in the Eastern Conference.
Cleveland fell 98-83 to the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday at Quicken Loans Arena to end the regular season with a four-game losing streak and 51-31 record.
The defending champion Cavs, who would have finished second in the East regardless because Boston beat Milwaukee, will open a best-of-seven playoff series on Saturday at 3 p.m. at The Q against the seventh-seeded Indiana Pacers.
Off the court, the Cavs waived 6-foot-11 center Larry Sanders, who struggled while alternating between Cleveland and NBA Development League affiliate Canton, and signed 36-year-old veteran swingman Dahntay Jones and 7-3 center Walter “Edy” Tavares, a 25-year-old who didn’t start playing basketball until he was 17.
They are the 21st and 22nd players to be on the Cavs’ roster this season, with Tavaras signed for the next two seasons as well.
“We just thought these two guys were what we needed going into the playoffs to potentially help us,” Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue said.
Jones also signed with the Cavs at this point last season and scored five points in Cleveland’s Game 6 victory over the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals.
“He brings some toughness and physicality, a little nasty, which we need at times,” Lue said. “It’s great to have him back.”
Tavares, who played one game for Atlanta this season and 11 in 2015-16, is from Cape Verde, an island off the coast of Africa, and has a 7-9 wingspan.
Prior to signing with the Hawks, Tavares played professionally in Spain. He spent most of this season in the D-League after being waived by Atlanta, but looked good in his Cavs debut, finishing with six points, 10 rebounds and six blocks in 24 minutes.
Sanders, who hadn’t played since early in the 2014-15 season, appeared in five games for the Cavs and four for Canton. He was signed March 13 and the Cavs held a team option for next season, but they relinquished that right by waiving him.
“Larry did everything we asked him to do,” general manager David Griffin said. “He worked incredibly hard. ... We just got to the point where we realized he was a long way from playing meaningful NBA minutes.
“(Tavares) has been doing more,” he added. “He’s just more game ready.”
The Cavs got more positive news at the center spot when Thompson, who had played in 447 straight games prior to getting injured, returned after missing four games with a sprained right thumb.
“We didn’t have any concern he would play (in the playoffs), in large part because he’s Tristan,” Griffin said. “He’s got a really high pain tolerance. ... Tristan’s a warrior.”
Wearing a protective brace, Thompson finished with 10 points on 5-for-6 shooting and four rebounds in 18 first-half minutes on Fan Appreciation Night at The Q, where the Cavs fell behind 53-34 at halftime after a 13-point second quarter.
Veteran James Jones, who began the night shooting .556 on 3-pointers for the season, missed his first 10 attempts from deep and finished 1-for-12 to drop his final percentage to .470.
The Raptors (51-31), who rested DeMar DeRozan and Serge Ibaka, got 25 points from shooting guard Norman Powell.
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