December 28, 2012; Cleveland, OH USA: Cleveland Cavaliers shooting guard Dion Waiters (3) steals the bal from Atlanta Hawks shooting guard Louis Williams (3) during the game at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: Eric P. Mull-USA TODAY Sports

Atlanta Hawks (20-13) vs. Cleveland Cavaliers (8-28) Preview

For the 11th straight game, the Cleveland Cavaliers (8-28) will be without starting center AndersonVarejao. He will be out for the next six to eight weeks recovering from right knee surgery. If the Cavs thought about trading him this season, you can throw his trade value out the door with him undergoing surgery.

The Cavs return home after being trounced, again, by the Chicago Bulls. They welcome in the Atlanta Hawks (20-13) to Quicken Loans Arena, where the Cavs have lost their past nine of 10 games to the Hawks. Fortunately for Cleveland, the Hawks come into the game losing three straight, their longest of the season. The last time the Cavs defeated the Hawks came Nov. 30 when Alonzo Gee had a put-back shot coming from Dion Waiter’s missed jumper with a second remaining.

This team has been affected by injury all year and could be missing another key player tonight. C.J. Miles left Monday’s game in the third quarter with back spasms and his status for tonight’s game is uncertain.

In addition to Varejao and Miles, Daniel Gibson has been trying to return to the lineup. So far, he has not been able to pass concussion tests to return.

Luke Walton’s status for tonight remains uncertain. He left the team Monday and was unavailable due to personal matters.

Once again, the Cavs will have their hands full in the paint trying to contain Al Horford and Josh Smith.  Horford and Smith are the Hawks’ leading scorers and both average over nine rebounds.

Monday night the Cavs were dominated by the duo of Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah. If the Cavaliers want to avoid their third straight loss, Tristan Thompson and Tyler Zeller will need to dominate the paint and force the Hawks into difficult shots.

The Cavaliers’ perimeter defense will be tested tonight. Atlanta is eighth in the league in field goal percentage and sixth in three-point percentage.

With a thin lineup tonight, the Cavs will rely heavily on their starters. They are mismatched down low, but they will need to take advantage of the match ups in the backcourt. These are the types of games Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters must dominate. They will be up against veterans Jeff Teague and Kyle Korver.

Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. at Quicken Loans Arena. You can watch the game on Fox Sports Ohio in the Cleveland area or listen to it on WTAM (1100 AM) and WFUN (970 AM).

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Tags: Al Horford Anderson Varejao Atlanta Hawks Cleveland Cavaliers Dion Waiters

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