The Cavaliers, even in a loss, played pretty well against the Rockets — one the league’s best teams — on Thursday. Now, they wrap up their Texas swing with a game at the lowly Mavericks.
When: 8:30 p.m. ET
Where: American Airlines Arena — Dallas, Texas
Enemy Blog: Mavs Moneyball
TV: Fox Sports Ohio, NBA League Pass
Online: NBA League Pass, Fox Sports GO
Cavs injuries: Isaiah Thomas (OUT - hip), Tristan Thompson (OUT - left calf), Derrick Rose (TBD - ankle sprain/soreness)
Mavericks injuries: Seth Curry (OUT - leg)
Three Keys to the game
- The Mavericks are really, really bad. They are among of the NBA’s five worst teams in both offensive and defensive rating so far this year, per nba.com/stats. Dirk Nowitzki looks old(er) and his overall field goal percentage is over three percent from last year. Harrison Barnes is Harrison Barnes. Rookie guard Dennis Smith Jr. is fun, but this team is really bad. If the only the Cavs had their first round pick and not the Nets’.
- The loss to the Rockets may have been the Cavs’ most effortful performance of the season. They closed out on shooters, fought through screens and battled back from multiple double-digit deficits in the game. Rebounding issues aside, this was one of the Cavs’ best performances and it came on the heels of another inspired performance in a win over the Bucks. Will the Cavs bring that same energy and focus against a 2-10 Mavs team that really doesn’t post a threat?
- The Mavericks do one thing that should test the Cavs: shoot, and make, threes. Per nba.com/stats, the Mavericks are fourth in three-pointers made per game and fourth in three-point attempts per game. All of their rotation players sans Nerlens Noel and Salah Meljri are liable to shoot a three-pointer if left open. The two to watch the most: Wesley Matthews, who is shooting 44.1 percent from three this year, and Nowitzki, who is 41.7 percent from three and could have a smaller defender on him at times depending on what lineups the Mavs roll out.
Yes, Nowitzki is old and he’s probably going to take over the game tonight. But depending on what kinds of lineups the Mavericks use, he could spend time with the likes of Jae Crowder and Jeff Green on him. He’ll be able to shoot over both inside and at the three-point line, so if he gets rolling, how will the Cavs adjust? Tristan Thompson’s injury takes away an obvious person to defend Nowitzki.
Fear the Sword’s Fearless Prediction
The Cavs should be able to beat the Mavericks even if they don’t bring the exact same effort they did against the Rockets. Cavs 111, Mavericks 98.