CLEVELAND — The Brooklyn Nets were more concerned with resting their starters than playoff positioning.
With their 114-85 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday in the season finale, the Nets dropped to the No. 6 seed in the Eastern Conference.
Brooklyn (44-38) will face the Atlantic Division champion Toronto Raptors on Saturday in Game 1 of a best-of-seven, first-round playoff series.
Had the Nets won Wednesday, they would have earned the No. 5 seed and played the Chicago Bulls in the first round.
Forwards Marcus Thornton and Andray Blatche each scored 20 points for the Nets.
Brooklyn coach Jason Kidd rested starting forwards Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce and starting guards Joe Johnson and Deron Williams.
Center Tyler Zeller paced the Cavaliers (33-49) with 22 points. He also pulled down 11 rebounds for his third double-double of the season. The 7-footer reached double figures in scoring in each of the last four games. He shot 9-for-11 from the field against the Nets.
Cleveland’s Dion Waiters added 19 points. Over his last 15 games — since he moved back into the starting lineup at shooting guard — he averaged 21.2 points and 4.2 assists. He scored 20 or more points in nine of the final 15 games.
With the lopsided victory, the Cavaliers avoided what would have been their third 50-loss season in four years.
Guard Kyrie Irving added 15 points and five assists for the Cavaliers, while power forward Tristan Thompson recorded his 36th double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds.
Brooklyn guard Jorge Gutierrez, signed off the roster of the NBA Development League’s Canton Charge, added 13 points before fouling out.
The Cavaliers throttled the makeshift Nets in the third quarter, 30-15. Cleveland took an 81-64 lead heading into the fourth quarter and never looked back.
Nets center Jason Collins set a season high with eight points in the first half, though he didn’t score after halftime.
NOTES: There will likely be no big decisions made in Cleveland this week. Cavaliers majority owner Dan Gilbert is attending the NBA Board of Governors meeting in New York on Thursday and Friday. … Cavaliers F Anthony Bennett admits his rookie year was “interesting.” That might be a major understatement. The No. 1 overall pick missed the previous 17 games with a strained left patellar tendon before returning to score seven points Wednesday. “I’ve learned a lot,” said Bennett, who averaged 4.1 points and 2.9 rebounds going into the finale. … Cavaliers G/F C.J. Miles (sprained left ankle) and F Luol Deng (sore back) sat out the season finale.
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