Cleveland and Dallas meet tonight in Big D. Both teams hope to get a winning streak started. The Cavaliers are coming off a victory over the Suns and a loss to the Hawks in the game prior. The Mavericks rebounded from a disappointing loss against the Warriors by beating the Lakers on Sunday night. Dallas is trying to get their five game home stand off on the right foot, and Cleveland's aiming to start their four game road trip off right. Something's gotta give.
Who: Cavs (40-25) at Mavs (41-24)
Where: American Airlines Center, Dallas, TX
When: 8:30 pm Eastern
TV: Fox Sports Ohio and NBA TV
Enemy Blog: Mavs Moneyball
The Mavericks and Cavaliers met back on January 4th at the Q during LeBron James' hiatus. Mike Miller started, and Dion Waiters, A.J. Price, Alex Kirk and Lou Amundson all got playing time for the Cavs. Dallas shot 56% from the field and sank 12-of-26 threes. What I'm trying to say is, Dallas won in a blowout, but things are just a liiiiiiiiiiittle bit different in Cleveland nowadays.
Back in January, Rick Carlisle's team was two weeks into the Rajon Rondo experiment, and Dallas was in the middle of an interesting transformation. Prior to acquiring the mercurial point guard, the Mavericks had the top offense in the NBA and a bottom 10 defense.. Since the trade, Dallas' offense is more than 10 points worse per 100 possessions, but they still have the 10th best attack in the league. Their defense has improved by nearly 5 points per 100, the 10th best D in the league. So while Rondo has hurt the team's offense, their defense is much better, and the team is more well-rounded. The former offensive juggernaut has cracked 100 points in just three of their past twelve contests.
The Cavs, obviously, are very different, too. After that January 4th contest against the Mavericks, they ranked 10th in the league in offense and 23rd in defense. On January 5th, they brought Smith and Shumpert in and booted Dion Waiters out. Two days later, Timofey Mozgov joined the fray. Since then, Cleveland's offense has been the 2nd best in the league, and the defense has improved to around league average (16th).
It's interesting to see teams with title aspirations tweaking their playing styles so drastically during the middle of a season, but that's exactly what Dallas and Cleveland did. Which team has the advantage when the two meet this evening?
FEAR THE SWORD FEARLESS PREDICTION:
Cleveland 104, Dallas 99. Just a gut feeling, I suppose. Monta Ellis may give the Cavs fits, but in crunch time, I'm not sure the Mavericks have anyone who can match up effectively with LeBron James.