The Cleveland Cavaliers announced their starting five for the team’s season opener against the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday night. Comparing this quintet to the five that started in Cleveland’s opener last season shows that just two players from that 2017 group, Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson, remain in the lineup.
Lineup note: Cavs will start Hill, Hood, Osman, Love, Thompson on Wednesday.
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The most prominent absence in this group from last season is small forward LeBron James, who left to play for the Los Angeles Lakers during the offseason. Second-year man Cedi Osman has the monumental task of trying to fill the hole left by James’ departure, while the backcourt will have two players, George Hill and Rodney Hood, who joined the Cavs at midseason last year.
Hood, who agreed to accept a $3.4 million qualifying offer from the Cavs during the offseason, is hoping to deliver a strong year, since his acceptance of the team’s offer allows him to become an unrestricted free agent next July. He’ll be in the shooting guard spot, a position that’s largely been held in recent years by veteran J.R. Smith, who’s been ruled out of the opener because of right elbow trouble.
Another Cavs player who will also miss the contest is Larry Nance Jr., who’s still recovering from a sprained ankle suffered last week in practice. The fourth-year big man signed a four-year contract extension with the Cavaliers on Monday.
Rookie guard Collin Sexton will make his debut with the Cavaliers after having been the eighth overall selection in this year’s NBA draft. Spending a single season at the University of Alabama, the 19-year-old Sexton has impressed during Las Vegas Summer League action and the preseason.
The Raptors ended last season with the best record in the NBA’s Eastern Conference, but were then swept by the Cavaliers in the conference semifinals. That led to the dismissal of head coach Dwane Casey, who subsequently was hired by the Detroit Pistons, with Toronto hiring Nick Nurse to replace him. The team also pulled off a blockbuster deal during the offseason, sending guard DeMar DeRozan to the San Antonio Spurs in exchange for disgruntled forward Kawhi Leonard.
The Cavaliers-Raptors clash is set to tip just after 7 p.m. ET at Air Canada Centre.