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- Cavaliers center Anderson Varejao (right leg muscle) will undergo surgery Thursday to repair a split vastus medialis, which is the muscle that connects to the border of the patella. The NBA’s leading rebounder, who has been sidelined since falling hard to the court on his right knee Dec. 18 against Toronto, is expected to miss 6-8 more weeks. “It’s a devastating loss for us to lose such a great player like Andy,” Cleveland center Tyler Zeller said. “His experience is impossible for us to replace.”
- The Cavaliers are also without shooting guards C.J. Miles (back strain) and Daniel “Boobie” Gibson (concussion), and power forward Luke Walton (personal reasons), leaving them with just 10 players in uniform. Cleveland’s starting lineup is point guard Kyrie Irving, shooting guard Dion Waiters, small forward Alonzo Gee, power forward Tristan Thompson, and Zeller. Miles was listed as a game-time decision before being declared out 30 minutes before the opening tip.
- Hawks point guard Devin Harris (left foot soreness) will play and come off the bench in his first game since Dec. 18 at Washington. Harris, who has missed the last 11 contests, is averaging 7.7 points and 2.5 assists in 20 games this season. Morrow (right hip strain) will sit out his fifth game in a row, while shooting guard DeShawn Stevenson (knee soreness) is inactive after playing five minutes Tuesday at Minnesota.
- Hawks coach Larry Drew will start his “big lineup” against the Cavaliers with center Zaza Pachulia, power forward Al Horford, small forward Josh Smith, shooting guard Kyle Korver, and point guard Jeff Teague. Pachulia joins the starting five, while shooting guard Lou Williams heads to the bench. Drew said the move was made to counter the Cavaliers’ size.
- One night after calling his team “soft” after its 108-103 loss to the Timberwolves, Drew refused to back down from his comments. “We had a breakfast meeting and watched clips from last night’s game, and after the players saw them, everyone agreed with me,” Drew said. “We came out way too soft, way too tentative in the first half, and with no energy.”
– Brian Dulik