The Cleveland Cavaliers lost to the hapless Dallas Mavericks Monday night 104-97. Cleveland was without All-Star power forward Kevin Love, who missed the game with back problems (Love will also miss Wednesday home game vs Minnesota). LeBron James and Kyrie Irving tried to carry the Cavs to a victory but it was not enough to combat the teams overall poor defense and issues with foul trouble.
The first half was less than ideal for Cavaliers. Kyrie Irving made some highlight plays (is there anyone more fun to watch offensively?) but he went cold from the floor later on.
As problematic for the Cavs as Kyrie’s missing shooting stroke, Tristan Thompson was held to just 11 minutes in the first half due to early foul trouble. Without Love, Tristan’s inability to stay on the court badly exposed the Cavaliers lack of depth and the Mavericks took advantage. When the teams headed for the locker room the Cavs were staring at a five point deficit.
Things were not immediately better after the break. The third quarter was sloppy defensively, and the rotations remained affected by the earlier foul trouble. LeBron was playing well on the offensive end but it was not enough for the Cavs to cut into the Mavs lead. By the time the quarter was over the Cavaliers deficit actually grew and they were down by 11 heading into the fourth.
Sadly for Cavs fans things only got worse in the fourth quarter. Yogi Ferrell, the newly signed player from the D-League, helped the Mavericks pull away from the defending NBA Champions. With just over three minutes left in the game the Mavericks were up by 15 and the Cavs were emptying their bench.
Overall there probably is not too much to take away from this game. It was the second game of home road back-to-back. The team was without Love and the rotations were severely altered by the teams early foul trouble. Once again depth proved to be an issue for the Wine and Gold but thats hardly an unknown problem. It would be nice if the team was able to acquire another player who could handle the ball reliably and initiate the offense but that likely will not come until buy-out season in a few weeks. It would be in the interest of the team for LeBron and Kyrie to play less minutes but given the current limitations of the roster Tyronn Lue does not have too much of a choice.
The Cavaliers now have a well earned day of rest before returning to Cleveland to take on the young Minnesota Timberwolves Wednesday night.