TV: NBA TV
- Cavaliers center Anderson Varejao (back) and shooting guard C.J. Miles (right foot soreness) are out. Varejao underwent an MRI on his back that did not reveal any structural damage, while Miles had X-rays on his foot that were negative. Both players were injured Sunday during Cleveland’s 91-83 overtime win over Memphis. “With Andy, it’s his back and really his whole body that is sore, so it will be good to get him some rest,” coach Mike Brown said. “But, obviously, you hope that it’s not a long-term thing.” Varejao and Miles are both listed as day-to-day for the Cavaliers’ game Wednesday at Detroit.
- Cleveland center Tyler Zeller will make his fourth start of the season in place of Varejao. The second-year pro is averaging 4.2 points and 3.5 rebounds in 40 games, but also has been a “Did Not Play — Coach’s Decision” on nine occasions. “The thing Tyler always has to remember is to be ready defensively,” Brown said. “When he’s in his stance, he’s pretty good. But when he relaxes, his posture is too straight. When that happens, he has to react, not be proactive, which you can’t do as an NBA player.”
- Kings coach Michael Malone spent five seasons as an assistant under Brown with the Cavaliers from 2005-2010. The rookie head coach admitted having mixed emotions when Sacramento hammered Cleveland 124-80 on Jan. 12, which was the sixth-worst loss in Cavaliers history. “I would never want to do anything to embarrass or humiliate Mike Brown in any way,” Malone said. “I know he isn’t going to allow his team to lay an egg tonight like they did in that game.”
- The Kings’ lineup is point guard Isaiah Thomas, shooting guard Marcus Thornton, small forward Rudy Gay, power forward Jason Thompson, and center DeMarcus Cousins. Cousins was held to a 3-for-16 shooting performance Sunday in Sacramento’s 93-84 loss in Washington. “That was the first time I’ve really seen DeMarcus struggle like that,” Malone said. “That’s why we’re going to play through him and establish his post presence early tonight.”
- The Cavaliers’ starters are All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving, shooting guard Jarrett Jack, small forward Luol Deng, power forward Tristan Thompson, and Zeller. Cleveland is 18-33 on the season, but has won two straight and trails Charlotte by four games for the final Eastern Conference playoff spot. “If any of our guys don’t remember what happened the last time we played Sacramento, it’s a tough situation,” Brown said. “Let’s leave it at that.”
- Cleveland only has 11 players in uniform with Varejao, Miles, rookie shooting guard Carrick Felix (left leg fracture), and rookie small forward Sergey Karasev (NBA D-League assignment with Canton Charge) all unavailable. Sacramento is carrying 13 players on its roster, so it does not have to declare any inactives.
– Brian Dulik