By T.J. ZUPPE, 92.3 The FanBy T.J. Zuppe | 92.3 The Fan

INDEPENDENCE (92.3 The Fan) – Health has been a recent adversary to Anderson Varejao in his career.

With a critical stretch of basketball on the horizon, the Cleveland Cavaliers desperately need health back on his side.

The 6-11 center has missed the last 11 games with a sore back but appears close to returning as the Cavs prepare to face the Charlotte Bobcats on Friday.

“I felt pretty good today,” Varejao said at practice on Wednesday. “I just need to go through contact and see how I really feel. But overall I’m feeling pretty good.

“We’ll see if tomorrow I can do more stuff on the floor and we can go from there.”

“It was a real light day,” coach Mike Brown said. “He’s getting closer but there is still no timetable.”

With Charlotte four games in front of Cleveland in the standings, the game looms large in a potential Cavs’ playoff run.

Because of the contest’s magnitude, Varejao desperately would love to return.

“We can’t set a date yet but I would love to (play Friday),” the Cavs’ center said. “Hopefully I can play the next game. But if not, I feel like (I’m) pretty close. I just don’t know when yet.”

“If he can go, he’ll go,” Brown said. “If he can’t, then we’ll have to have other guys step up.

“Its more or less when he’s ready to go. We’re not going to rush him back.”

With his return seemingly closer, Brown would have some decisions to make.

Would he stick with Spencer Hawes as his starting center? How many minutes will Varejao play?

“Obviously, I would monitor his minutes.” Brown said. “When he gets back, we’ll go with what we feel.”

Varejao is averaging 8.8 points and 10.3 rebounds in 48 games played this season.

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