Some news and thoughts on the latest happenings with the Cavaliers:
* Forward/center Anderson Varejao continues to be bothered by a sore lower back and will not make the trip to Charlotte for Friday’s game. It will be the 12th straight game missed by Varejao. This is officially a problem.
* Varejao did just fine coming off the bench behind (since departed) center Andrew Bynum to start the season. But the wild style played by Varejao (and we love him for it), combined with his age (31), means increased minutes are usually bad news.
* When (if?) Varejao returns, he’ll likely come off the bench again, now that Spencer Hawes has moved into the starting center position. Either way, the Cavs could certainly use Varejao’s presence and energy for the final 20 games.
* Yes, the Cavs remain very much alive in the Eastern Conference playoff race despite their 24-38 record. The Atlanta Hawks (26-33) hold the eighth and final spot, and are just 3.5 games in front of the Cavs. The Hawks have lost 10 of 11 and things have generally been falling apart quickly for them. Prior to Al Horford’s injury, they were the No. 3 seed. They’ve also lost All-Star forward Paul Millsap (expected back any minute) and have dropped 10 of 11.
* Meanwhile, the Bobcats (28-33) own the No. 7 seed, making Friday’s game particularly big. Like the Cavs, the Bobcats are a mostly young team that could go either way in the season’s final month. To be completely honest, I expect the Bobcats to make it. They always play hard and are fairly consistent, and first-year coach Steve Clifford has turned center Al Jefferson into a true star. All those things count for a lot in the East.
* The Bobcats have made huge strides defensively. They’re fifth in the league in points allowed (97.3). That said, they gave up 62 points to LeBron James and 61 points to Carmelo Anthony earlier this season, so they’re capable of allowing big nights at the small forward spot. So much for second-year man Michael Kidd-Gilchrist making an immediate impact on D.
* Anyway, back to the Cavs. Unless they suddenly get their act together, the biggest news surrounding the team involves former center Zydrunas Ilguaskas. Everyone loves Z, and it’s awesome that the team is retiring his jersey Saturday. But is anyone else sick of all the good news about this team being about guys who no longer play?
* OK, that’s not entirely true. You can’t help but love Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters. But it would all be a lot easier to follow if the Cavs started winning games on a consistent basis. Otherwise, the final month of the season turns into nothing but lottery talk and speculation over whether the coach will get fired. Or worse, baseball season.
* But the Cavs can change all that by making a run to the playoffs and exciting their fan base. I guarantee every home playoff game would be a sellout and The Q would be rockin’. As Cavs fans, you probably already knew that. It’s fun to think about, isn’t it? Now if the Cavs can just make it happen.