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  • Cavaliers center Anderson Varejao (right knee bruise) will not play tonight or Saturday at Brooklyn. The NBA’s leading rebounder, who was injured on Dec. 18 against Toronto when he fell hard to the floor, was originally expected to return to practice on Christmas Day. “I feel like I am getting better and the pain is going away,” said Varejao, who is averaging 14.4 rebounds in 25 games. “But I’m just not sure when it’s going to feel good enough to come back. It does feel better when I’m driving and laying down, though, so that’s a good sign.”
  • Hawks point guard Devin Harris (left foot soreness) and power forward Ivan Johnson (stomach flu) are not in the arena this evening, while shooting guard DeShawn Stevenson (knee soreness) will be a game-time decision. “With us playing again tomorrow (against Indiana), we’ll only use DeShawn in one of the games,” Atlanta coach Larry Drew said. “There is a pretty good chance he won’t play tonight.”
  • The Hawks’ starting lineup is point guard Jeff Teague, shooting guard Lou Williams, small forward Kyle Korver, power forward Josh Smith, and center Al Horford. “With Teague and Williams at the guards, it gives us speed in the backcourt and a chance to move faster with the ball,” Drew said. “Cleveland is still a very potent offensive rebounding machine, so that should be a plus for us.”
  • Cleveland’s starters are point guard Kyrie Irving, shooting guard Dion Waiters, small forward Alonzo Gee, power forward Tristan Thompson, and center Tyler Zeller. The Cavaliers are riding a season-long two-game winning streak, but have lost three straight at Quicken Loans Arena.
  • Inactive for the Cavaliers are Varejao and power forward Samardo Samuels (NBA D-League assignment to Canton Charge), while Harris is inactive for Atlanta. Samuels was jettisoned earlier in the day despite Cleveland being short-handed in the frontcourt.
  • All fans in attendance will receive a Varejao wig, allowing them to look just like the mop-topped Brazilian. “It’s really sad I can’t play on my night,” Varejao said, laughing. “I can’t wait to see all the fans wearing my hair.”

– Brian Dulik

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