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Cleveland Cavaliers at Dallas Mavericks: Game preview, start time, television information

The Cavaliers face another team with incentive to lose.

NBA: Dallas Mavericks at Cleveland Cavaliers Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

The Cleveland Cavaliers square off with Luka Doncic and the quickly tanking Dallas Mavericks in a battle of wonky incentives.

Who: Cleveland Cavaliers (17-52) at Dallas Mavericks (27-41)

When: 8:30 p.m. EST

Where: American Airlines Center — Dallas, Texas

Where on my eyeballs: Fox Sports Ohio, NBA League Pass

Cavs status updates: John Henson (Wrist - OUT), Tristan Thompson (Foot soreness - QUESTIONABLE), Larry Nance Jr. (Rib contusion - DOUBTFUL), Matthew Dellavedova (Concussion - OUT), J.R. Smith (Not With Team)

Mavericks status updates: J.J. Barea (Achilles - OUT), Kristaps Porzingis (knee - OUT)

Three Keys to the Game

Who wants to lose more?

The Mavericks have lost seven in a row, and nine of their last ten to fall to the second worst record in the Western Conference. This isn’t just a matter of Luka Doncic’s magic fading. Much like the Cavaliers, the Mavs have a protected first-round pick that could conceivably head to the Atlanta Hawks this season — theirs is protected for the top five. With several firsts heading out of town in the Kristaps Porzingis trade, they need to add young talent as quickly as possible, so tanking their way into the top five is honestly the smart play.

Will Sexton’s renaissance continue?

Collin Sexton has scored 27, 28, 26 and 23 points respectively in his last four games. Sure, late-season defense isn’t always great, but the Cavaliers have played some good teams during that stretch. he’s put up 26 threes in those four games and made 13 of them. He’s been employing a floater when his progress gets stopped at the rim.

Sexton’s still a very imperfect player on offense, but he’s making the progress you’d hope to see midseason.

Cedi, the playmaker

Cedi Osman’s been passing quite well at the forward position, even as his own scoring game has slipped a little bit. He’s averaging over five assists per game in the last four, and his continued development as a secondary playmaker is going to be very important, especially if his jumper is going to come and go.

As far as the rest of his offensive game goes, Osman needs to get to the line more. There’s too many games on the game log with zero attempts from the line, and that just gives him zero margin for error if the shot isn’t falling.

Fear the Sword’s Fearless Prediction:

The Cavaliers are mostly still trying to win. I’m not sure the same can be said for Dallas. The Cavaliers pull out a win against a disinterested Dallas squad, 109-105.