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The Cavaliers have lost four of their

  • March 4, 2017 11:47 AM EET

    TORONTO - After falling victim to slow starts in each of the last two games, both losses, Raptors coach Dwane Casey hinted change could be on the way. Ryan Braun Brewers Jersey . "Weve got to look at our starts," said Casey, the afternoon following a 90-83 defeat to Miami, one in which his team fell behind by nine in the first quarter. "Thats the second game in a row thats happened." Toronto allowed the Heat to shoot 52 per cent in the first quarter four days after the Nets shot 60 per cent in the opening 12 minutes of Tuesdays loss. Despite a second-half push, the Raptors failed to dig themselves out of an early-game hole in both contests, prompting Casey to suggest that a change could be imminent as soon as Sundays game, at home to Denver, or in Oakland against Golden State on Tuesday. "Whether its a lineup change or a change in personality," he continued, "weve got to look at something to start the game because we cant expend that much mental and physical energy to fight against all the teams were going against, and thats what its been the last couple of weeks." The Raptors - who used 22 different starting lineups last season, sixth most in the NBA - have started the same unit in each game to begin the campaign. After experiencing some success on the floor together - specifically on the defensive end - towards the end of last season, the group of Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan, Rudy Gay, Amir Johnson and Jonas Valanciunas has underachieved through 15 contests this year. That unit - the Raptors most used, both this season and last - outscored opponents by 85 points when they were in the game together a year ago, starting 21 of the teams final 25 games. They ranked third in the NBA in defensive efficiency among five-man units that played a minimum of 300 minutes together (only the Spurs and Grizzlies starting fives had a better defensive rating). This season they are a minus-35, per NBA.com/stats, and are allowing opponents to shoot 52 per cent from the field. They have shared the floor for 229 minutes while the teams second most-utilized unit - Lowry, DeRozan, Gay and Johnson with Landry Fields - has played just 34 minutes together. As a team, Toronto has been least effective in the first and third quarters, with the starters playing the bulk of the teams minutes. The Raptors are a plus-three in the opening frame and minus-39 in the third. Their best quarter has been the fourth - a period in which the starters have rarely played together - where their plus-45 mark is third best in the NBA (behind only the Pacers and Thunder). "I think you have to look at the chemistry, skill set, what they bring to the table, a little bit of everything," Casey said of a possible change. "I dont question our guys fight. Its not that were not playing hard, its just not meshing together with the first group." Two starters who could be on the hot seat are Johnson and Valanciunas. Both frontcourt players logged fewer than 18 minutes in Fridays loss and have failed to meet lofty pre-season expectations overall. Tyler Hansbrough, who played 25 minutes and helped turn the game around in the second half with his physicality, earned praise from his coach following Saturdays practice and could be a candidate to replace either Johnson or Valanciunas in the event Casey decides to make a change. "It may be just a matter of time to let it go," Casey said. "Were still searching, like a lot of teams in the league are doing. Were not panicking but weve got to make sure we understand and we get the right group together." Toronto hosts the Denver Nuggets Sunday afternoon, concluding a season-high four-game homestand before heading out west next week. Martin Maldonado Jersey . -- Jane Kish stopped all 25 shots she faced as the Weyburn Gold Wings blanked the Sudbury Lady Wolves 3-0 on Friday to advance to the gold-medal game at the Esso Cup. Aaron Hill Jersey . - Titans quarterback Jake Locker will miss the rest of the season with a Lisfranc injury to his right foot, leaving Tennessee trying to rally with Ryan Fitzpatrick.Cleveland, OH (SportsNetwork.com) - Monta Ellis scored 20 points and the Dallas Mavericks shot better than 56 percent from the field to beat the short-handed Cleveland Cavaliers 109-90 on Sunday for their fifth consecutive win. Dirk Nowitzki added 15 points and Chandler Parsons, Tyson Chandler and J.J. Barea each scored 14 for the Mavericks, who moved into a virtual tie with Memphis for first place in the Southwest Division. Kevin Love picked up the offensive slack for Cleveland again, scoring 30 and grabbing 10 rebounds. The Cavaliers have lost four of their last five games, including three of four without LeBron James. The Cavs beat Charlotte on Friday to snap a three-game losing streak a day after learning James will miss two weeks with knee and back strains. Love netted 27 points against the Hornets and Kyrie Irving scored 23, but had only six against Dallas before leaving the game with lower back tightness in the third quarter. The Mavericks never trailed after Devin Harris 3-pointer gave them a 24-23 lead with 1:48 remaining in the first quarter. They were 12-of-26 from beyond the arc, with Richard Jefferson hitting all three of his tries for 11 points off the bench. The other night we played great defensively. Today we did noot play good enough defense to beat any team, and certainly not Dallas, said Cavaliers coach David Blatt. Milwaukee Brewers Hoodie. We didnt defend the 3-point shot well. Dallas pushed its lead to double digits for the first time when Parsons scored four points on a quick 6-0 burst midway through the second quarter. That sparked an extended 14-3 run that gave the Mavericks a 15-point lead with two minutes left in the first half. It was 57-47 at the break and they led by as many as 20 points in the third quarter. Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said it was a closer game than the score indicated. Theyre down bodies, he said. Irving is out after a little bit in the second half, so we had to take advantage of it. But they battled us all day long. Dallas point guard Rajon Rondo finished with four points and eight assists after scoring a season-high 29 in a 119-101 win over Boston on Friday, his first game against his former team. Game Notes Shawn Marion scored 13 points off the bench for Cleveland and Matthew Dellavedova had 10. Tristan Thompson grabbed 11 rebounds in the loss ... The Mavericks finish a three-game road trip on Tuesday against Brooklyn ... 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