For the first time in almost two weeks, the Cleveland Cavaliers are back on the road tonight as they travel to the land of the Dallas Mavericks. The Cavaliers are looking to start a win streak after defeating the Orlando Magic on Saturday; the Mavericks are looking to prevent a streak after losing to the Washington Wizards that same evening.
Where: Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse — Cleveland, Ohio
When: 8:30 p.m. EST
TV: Bally Sports Ohio, NBA League Pass
Spread: Cavs +5
Opposing blog: Mavs Moneyball
Expected Cavs starting lineup: Darius Garland / Isaac Okoro, Lauri Markkanen / Evan Mobley / Jarrett Allen
Cavs injury report: Collin Sexton (OUT - meniscus)
Expected Mavericks starting lineup: Luka Doncic / Tim Hardaway Jr. / Dorian Finney-Smith / Kristaps Porzingis / Willie Cauley-Stein
Mavericks injury report: Frank Ntilikina (OUT - calf) (Jalen Brunson (QUESTIONABLE - foot)
Three things to watch
Can Darius Garland keep it going? Darius Garland had a rough Thanksgiving Eve. He went 0-for-6 from deep before fouling out toward the end of a loss to the Phoenix Suns. On Saturday, he responded with maybe his best game as a pro. 25 points and 11 assists is excellent no matter how you slice it, but to be honest, it undersells it: Garland has never been as in control of a game as he was against Orlando. If that version of Garland shows up again, he could put up a fight for Luka Doncic’s ‘best player on the floor’ title.
Tower City reaching new heights. As fate would have it, Garland’s big game coincided with arguably the best collective performance by the bigs who put the jumbo in the Cavs’ jumbo starting lineup. Allen, Mobley, and Markkanen combined for 52 points on 61 percent shooting, 25 boards and 6 blocks, and they also helped the Cavaliers secure eight more rebounds than the Magic. Kristaps Porzingis is playing well, but he isn’t the type of imposing interior presence who will neutralize an entire frontcourt. Tower City could be in for another big game.
Bench battle. In Jalen Brunson and Ricky Rubio, the Cavs and Mavs employ two of the best off-the-bench guards in the league. But the Mavs could be down their second-unit leader after Brunson missed Dallas’ Saturday loss to the Wizards. Like Rubio, Brunson has been one of his team’s most reliable options despite coming off the bench. If he’s out (or back at less than 100 percent), it would be a significant blow for Dallas.