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- Cavaliers center Anderson Varejao (right knee bruise) will miss his second straight game and is not expected to return until Dec. 26 at Washington. The NBA’s leading rebounder at 14.4 per game was injured Tuesday against Toronto. “I’m looking out for Andy because I know how hard he plays every night,” Cleveland coach Byron Scott said. “By sitting him tonight and tomorrow (in Milwaukee), that gives him a little more than a week to get rested and get better.” The Cavaliers are 0-2 without Varejao this season.
- With Varejao out, rookie center Tyler Zeller will make his second NBA start for Cleveland. The first-round draft pick from North Carolina scored a career-high 20 points Thursday at Boston, but only grabbed three rebounds in 36 minutes. “I think getting these starts is going to keep increasing Tyler’s confidence,” Scott said. The remainder of the Cavaliers’ lineup is point guard Kyrie Irving, shooting guard Dion Waiters, small forward Alonzo Gee, and power forward Tristan Thompson.
- Pacers center Roy Hibbert (left thigh bruise) is active and will start. Hibbert is the leading rebounder (8.3) on the NBA’s top rebounding team. “With Tyler starting for us, I’m hoping it takes Roy away from the basket, which is key for us,” Scott said. “Either that, or Tyler is going to get a lot of open shots.” Indiana’s other starters are power forward David West, small forward Paul George, shooting guard Lance Stephenson, and point guard George Hill.
- Inactive for the Pacers are small forward Danny Granger (left knee soreness) and shooting guard Orlando Johnson. Not in uniform for Cleveland are Varejao and point guard Donald Sloan. Johnson and Sloan are both healthy scratches.
- The Cavaliers have lost five straight games and own the second-worst record in the NBA at 5-22. Indiana sits sixth in the Eastern Conference with a 14-12 record and has won three in a row over Cleveland.
– Brian Dulik