After a shaky start the Cavaliers pulled out a win over the Celtics at the Garden last Thursday – their first in over three years. However they lost Shaq to a serious thumb injury in the second quarter and will have to fend without him for the remainder of the regular season. With Shaq and Z out of the mix, look for Anderson Varejao to log more minutes against opposing centers.
Perhaps underrated, Varejao is a good all-around player who does a little of everything and hustles to get a hand on the ball at critical moments. His quickness and aggressive defensive play were big factors in his team’s win over the Celts. Like a bird of prey, Varejao will suddenly swoop out of thin air to grab rebounds and tip boards.
And Varejao’s productivity has been steadily increasing ever since he first joined the Cavs in 2004. Last week he averaged 13 ppg and over 8 rebounds per game. His numbers don’t always fill out the box score, but fortunately for Cleveland the scrappy Varejao turns it out to fill the gaps when they need him most. So I expect he’ll continue to contribute and frustrate his opponents down the backstretch.