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- The Cavaliers are short-handed after making a trade with Memphis earlier in the day. Cleveland acquired power forward Marreese Speights, shooting guard Wayne Ellington, point guard Josh Selby, and a future first-round pick from the Grizzlies in exchange for seldom-used power forward Jon Leuer. None of the new Cavaliers are available to play against the Celtics, but general manager Chris Grant said they will be arriving in town on an evening flight. Cleveland also released point guard Jeremy Pargo as part of its roster shuffle.
- Also sidelined for the Cavaliers are center Anderson Varejao (right knee surgery, blood clots in lungs) and shooting guard C.J. Miles (flu), leaving them with just 10 players in uniform. Shooting guard Daniel “Boobie” Gibson (flu) is active after successfully making it through Cleveland’s shootaround. Varejao, who was leading the NBA in rebounding when he suffered a split muscle in his right knee on Dec. 18 against Toronto, has been declared out for the season.
- Rookie shooting guard Dion Waiters takes Miles’ spot in the Cavaliers’ starting lineup, alongside point guard Kyrie Irving, small forward Alonzo Gee, power forward Tristan Thompson, and rookie center Tyler Zeller. Cleveland is seeking to win consecutive home games for the first time in 2012-2013, having beaten Atlanta 99-83 on Jan. 9 before embarking on a five-game road trip. The Cavaliers are 4-12 at Quicken Loans Arena this winter.
- The Celtics have lost three straight games, dropping them into eighth place in the Eastern Conference at 20-20. “I believe we should be better than that — and we’re not — so it’s hard,” Boston coach Doc Rivers said. Despite the Celtics’ recent struggles, center Kevin Garnett, power forward Brandon Bass, small forward Paul Pierce, shooting guard Avery Bradley, and point guard Rajon Rondo remain their starting lineup.
- Boston center Chris Wilcox (right thumb sprain) and Bradley (rib soreness) continue to play through their injuries, while rookie center Fab Melo (NBA D-League assignment with Maine Red Claws) is inactive. “I feel for Avery because that’s a hard injury to play through,” Rivers said. “It hurts to breathe and it hurts every time you get hit anywhere near your ribs.”
– Brian Dulik