CLEVELAND (AP) — As much as it hurts, the Cavaliers would rather be without starting center Anderson Varejao for a few games than risk losing him for many more.
The NBA's leading rebounder missed his second straight game Friday night because of a bruised right knee that will likely sideline him for at least another game.
Cavs coach Byron Scott decided to rest Varejao against Indiana — the league's top rebounding team — and the 6-foot-11 big man will probably be out Saturday night when Cleveland plays in Milwaukee. After facing the Bucks, the Cavs won't play again until Dec. 26, giving Varejao time to get healthy.
"Andy's like any player who wants to play," Scott said. "They'll lie to you and tell you they're OK just because they want to get out there on the floor. But I think he understands where I'm coming from. I understand how hard he plays, how he's going to get nicked up and banged up during the course of a season.
"It's better to miss three games than 33 or 40 games."
Scott said the team hasn't yet decided if Varejao will make the trip to Milwaukee. It's possible he could stay in Cleveland to receive treatment on his knee.
The always hustling Varejao, averaging 14.4 rebounds per game, got hurt Tuesday night against Toronto. He didn't play on Wednesday, when the Cavs lost in Boston.
Cleveland's roster has been ravaged by injuries this season.The Cavs entered Friday's game on a five-game losing streak, and at 5-22, they have the second-worst record in the Eastern Conference. A brutal schedule, combined with a young roster and slew of injuries have made this season especially challenging for Scott.
The Cavs have only been practicing once per week, and Scott was looking forward to next week when he'll be able to have three practices to work on things with his young squad.
"A treat," he said.
Rookie Tyler Zeller will make his second straight start for Varejao. The 7-foot Zeller scored a season-high 20 points and had three rebounds in 36 minutes against the Celtics.