Jonas Valanciunas was drafted one spot behind Cavaliers center Tristan Thompson, who was selected No. 4 overall in 2011. But now the two may not go head-to-head when the Cavs and the Toronto Raptors meet in the second round of the Eastern Conference playoffs.
Valanciunas, a throwback pivot and starter for the majority of his career, came off the bench for all but two of the Raptors’ 4-2 series win over Milwaukee in Round One.
Instead of Jonas V, Raptors coach Dwane Casey opted for a small-ball lineup that featured second-year guard Norman Powell playing alongside the All-Star backcourt of Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan.
For his part, Valanciunas played the role of good soldier and told reporters he didn’t mind the change.
“I’m good. I don’t feel bad if I don’t start, he said. “I’m playing the same minutes, doing good things on the court, that’s all I need to do, right? I’ve just got to do my job. As long as we’re winning — I’ve been saying that a long time — as long as we’re winning I’m OK.”
Game 1 of the Cavs-Raptors series, a rematch of last season’s Eastern Conference finals, is set for Monday at 7 p.m. in Cleveland. The Cavs won last year’s series, 4-2.