Zeller has been out of the lineup since he received a concussion and a fractured cheek bone in the Cavs Nov. 5 game against the Los Angeles Clippers.
The rookie, who stands 7 feet tall and was drafted in the first round of the 2012 NBA Draft, has quickly turned into a key part of the Cavs rotation and was playing well before he was hurt.
“The last game he played, he played extremely well,” Head Coach Byron Scott said on Thursday. Scott said that Zeller took part in all of the team’s drills during the Thursday practice and looked pretty good.
“I expect him to be ready to play Saturday night,” Scott said.
Zeller also said after the Thursday practice that he expects to play, and he is excited to be out on the floor again.
“I’m just going to play as hard as I can when I get in,” Zeller said.
So far this season, Zeller is averaging 7.5 points per game and 4.5 rebounds per game. The Cavs were 2-2 when he was in the lineup, and then 0-4 when he was out.
“He’s an integral part of what we want to do,” Scott said. He described Zeller as “another big body who knows how to play,” and said he is a main part of the rotation for the team’s big men.
Zeller is still learning his way in the NBA, but he has played very well during his time on the floor for the Cavs.
Anderson Varejao has been great inside and Tristan Thompson has also been very good, but the Cavs have missed Zeller while he has been out and the team needs his presence inside.
One thing that will be noticeably different about Zeller’s play on Saturday will be the mask he will be wearing due to his facial injuries. Zeller explained that he is getting used to the mask, and said he does not know how long he will have to wear it. The mask is tedious at times, but it does have one advantage, according to Zeller.
“I think I look like, you know, Gladiator,” he said.
Gladiator or not, Cavs fans are just happy to see Zeller back on the floor and they hope he can help the Cavs get back on the winning track.