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NBA: Cavaliers, Raptors meet with COVID-depleted rosters

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The Toronto Raptors, who have had three of their past four scheduled games postponed, will be going for their second straight win when they visit the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday.

The Raptors have not played since Dec. 18 when they defeated the depleted Golden State Warriors 119-100 at home.

Toronto had a home game against the Orlando Magic on Monday and a road game against the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday postponed because of player shortages due to COVID-19. The home game against the Bulls on Dec. 16 also was postponed due to Chicago’s COVID-19 issues.

The Cavaliers had their road game against the Atlanta Hawks on Dec. 19 postponed because of COVID-19 before losing 111-101 to the host Boston Celtics on Wednesday.

The Cavaliers announced on Saturday that coach J.B. Bickerstaff was signed to an extension that reportedly runs through the 2026-27 season.

“J.B. Bickerstaff is, with all certainty, the right head coach to lead this franchise into what we believe is a very promising future,” Cavaliers general manager Koby Altman said in a team release.

“The decision to extend J.B. is not based solely on the early success of this season, but rather a body of work since his arrival to Cleveland. His leadership style, coaching experience and commitment to player development has instilled a growing confidence that resonates across our entire organization. We continue to see innovative and strategic examples of his impact on this roster, coupled by his unique ability to build upon a culture that leads to sustainable success.”

Bickerstaff took over as head coach on Feb. 19, 2020, after John Beilein stepped down.

This season, he has led the Cavs to a 19-13 mark, the fifth-best record in the Eastern Conference.

The Cavaliers also signed forward Tre Scott to a 10-day contract under the league’s hardship exception.

Scott becomes the third player signed to a 10-year deal in a 24-hour period, joining Justin Anderson and Luke Kornet. The Cavaliers had eight players in the league’s health and safety protocols — Isaac Okoro, Evan Mobley, Jarrett Allen, Lamar Stevens, Dylan Winder, Denzel Valentine, RJ Nembhard and Ed Davis.

Darius Garland continues to lead the Cavaliers, scoring 28 points and adding six assists at Boston. Garland praised the work of Tacko Fall, who had four points, 10 rebounds and two blocked shots in 19 minutes.

“Tacko was great,” Garland said. “Came in, blocked a lot of shots. He impacted the paint a lot. He came in and had a really good impact on the game, actually.”

The Raptors signed forwards Juwan Morgan and D.J. Wilson and guard Tremont Waters to 10-day contracts this week, joining the team from the NBA G League through the COVID hardship exception.

“Even our staff meetings, we’re doing them differently now too,’ Raptors coach Nick Nurse said. “Just again, we’re doing less, we’re doing a little more remote, very small groups, very big spaces, you know, all those things that we used to do we’re doing again.”

Among the Raptors in COVID-20 protocol this week were OG Anunoby, Pascal Siakam, Fred VanVleet, Scottie Barnes, Gary Trent Jr., Malachi Flynn, Precious Achiuwa and Dalano Banton.

The Cavaliers defeated the Raptors 102-101 in the first meeting between the teams Nov. 5 at Toronto. Garland made two free throws with 4.8 seconds remaining to end Toronto’s five-game winning streak.

–Field Level Media

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