September 2, 2014

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Cavaliers: Dion Waiters ready to return after missing seven games; Anderson Varejao closer but likely needs more time

Dion Waiters

Dion Waiters

INDEPENDENCE — Some help is on the way for the Cavaliers.

Shooting guard Dion Waiters, who has missed the last seven games with a hyperextended knee, went through a full practice Monday at Cleveland Clinic Courts and is expected to play tonight when the Cavs host the San Antonio Spurs at Quicken Loans Arena.

Center Anderson Varejao went through portions of practice and there’s a slight chance he could also be in uniform, but coach Mike Brown said the Brazilian will most likely miss his 11th straight game with a sore back.

Swingman C.J. Miles will miss his seventh game in a row with a sprained ankle when the Cavs (24-37) host the Southwest Division-leading Spurs (43-16).

Regardless of who’s available, Brown said he planned no changes in his starting lineup, meaning Waiters will continue to come off the bench.

“I’m looking forward to playing (tonight),” Waiters said. “I’m looking forward to getting out there with my team. They’ve been playing great basketball. I’m just looking forward to getting out there and continuing it.”

The Cavs, who are 3½ games out of the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, have won eight of their last 12 games, but they’ve also dropped four of their last six after falling in Memphis on Saturday night, when they scored 65 points in the first half but just 31 in the second.

“I can’t wait to get out there,” Waiters said. “I’m excited to lace ’em back up and get back out there and make this playoff push we’ve got a chance to make.”

Waiters got hurt Feb. 18 in Philadelphia when he landed awkwardly after a resounding slam dunk, but considers himself fortunate the injury was not more serious.

“I didn’t know what to think,” he said. “At first, I thought I tore something. I thank God every day for not tearing anything. Luckily, it was a hyperextension. It’s cool.”

Now that he’s set to return to action, Waiters is anxious to help the Cavs atone for a 126-96 loss in San Antonio on Nov. 23.

Cleveland trailed 65-32 at halftime of that game.

“They kicked our butts,” Waiters said. “We know what we’ve got to do against a great team like that. We just have to come out and be ready and be aggressive from the start and play defense.”

The Spurs have won six of their last seven games and are completely healthy, but they’re known for periodically resting veterans like Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker.

Parker returned Sunday after missing six games with leg injuries and hand soreness.

The point guard put up 22 points and seven assists in 32 minutes as San Antonio defeated Dallas 112-106.

After meeting the Spurs, who are 7-0 against Cleveland since LeBron James left town, the Cavs will play in Charlotte on Friday and host New York on Saturday.

The schedule gets a lot tougher after that, as Cleveland’s next six games are against Phoenix, Golden State, the Los Angeles Clippers, Miami, Oklahoma City and Houston.

The first three are on the road and the last three are at home.

“When we’re healthy, we’re one of the best teams out there,” Waiters said. “We’ve been playing great basketball lately. We’ve just got to keep it up.”

Contact Rick Noland at (330) 721-4061 or rnoland@medina-gazette.com. Fan him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter @RickNoland.

TONIGHT

WHO: Cleveland vs. San Antonio
TIME: 7 o’clock
WHERE: The Q
TV/RADIO: FS Ohio; WEOL 930-AM (joined in progress), WTAM 1100-AM