The Cleveland Cavaliers haven't looked anything like a team ready to defend their Eastern Conference championship lately. With one more win, they can at least ensure that title defense will begin at home.

The Cavaliers will look to lock up home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs on Monday when they play their final regular-season road game against the Philadelphia 76ers.

Cleveland (44-36) appeared to be rolling toward the East's fourth seed on March 12, when they were 37-27 and within reach of Orlando for the third seed. But the Cavaliers have gone just 7-9 since, and a race for home-court advantage that once seemed a mere formality has turned into a race with Washington.

But with just one win the Cavaliers can guarantee themselves they'll have a better record than the Wizards, who they'll meet in the first round of the playoffs for the third straight season.

"That's so fun. I'm excited," forward LeBron James said. "If we had to play somebody, I'm glad it's Washington."

James has experienced some back spasms lately, and the All-Star Game MVP hasn't looked like himself lately. He still leads the league in scoring at 30.3 points per game, but over his last 10 games he's only averaging 24.8 points.

Cleveland was trailing league-worst Miami by two after three quarters on Sunday, but outscored the Heat by 10 in the fourth - with James spending much of the quarter on the bench - to post an 84-76 win.

"We made free throws down the stretch and we gradually nailed the coffin,'' said James, who had 13 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists. "Defensively we were very good. Offensively we couldn't make shots, but I can live with it if we play defense like that."

One player who has been knocking down shots for the Cavaliers is Delonte West. The point guard, who came over in the deal that brought Ben Wallace, Joe Smith and Wally Szczerbiak to Cleveland in late February, is averaging 14.9 points in his last seven games while shooting 50.0 percent (13-for-26) from beyond the arc.

He played perhaps his best game as a Cavalier against Philadelphia (40-40) on March 30, finishing with 18 points, 11 assists and six rebounds in Cleveland's 91-88 win.

The Sixers are tied with Toronto for the sixth seed in the East, but lost the season series to the Raptors. If Philadelphia wins its final two games and Toronto loses one, it will play Orlando in the first round. Otherwise, the Sixers will face second-seeded Detroit.

Philadelphia had been in position to move as high as fifth, but has lost three of four, including a 109-93 at Washington on Saturday.

"We have a lot of young guys, so that could be a problem,'' said guard Andre Iguodala, who had a team-high 22 against the Wizards. "I hope we just go out there and continue to play, just realizing that we don't have nothing to lose anyway."

Iguodala is averaging 22.2 points, 7.0 assists and 2.6 steals in his last five games. He's averaging 19.5 points as the Sixers have split their two games with Cleveland this season.

Former Cavalier Andre Miller has been the other big key to Philadelphia's success this season. Miller is averaging 17.5 points and 8.1 assists in his last 11 games.

Cleveland has won three of its last four visits to the Wachovia Center. This is their first and only meeting there this season.


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