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Final score: Mavericks defeat Cavaliers 108-102; go to 2-2 on the preseason

tl; dr: The starting five look good

Jason Miller

Well, this is probably not much like the Cavs team the league will see during the season, with Kevin Love and our old friend Shawn Marion out of the game for rest/maintenance, but the real headline tonight for us Mavericks fans is, of course, the Mavs' starting five playing together for the first time.

(I'd also like to apologize for this being a little light on details, but I may have been clinically dead while watching this game because my day job kicked my rear today. I trust y'all to fill in or correct what I may have missed accordingly.)

Early returns on that starting five seemed to be pretty strong. Dirk was Dirk'ing all over the place, making an easy first shot and at least one really pretty shot at the top of the key off a pass from Monta. As Bobby Karalla noted, that may be that new fancy "quicker shot release" at work.

We also saw a nice 1Q from Jameer Nelson, who was shooting the ball totally lights out for a while. (And would obviously continue that trend as the game wore on.)

Mark Followill mentioned on the Mavs broadcast that he asked Carlisle pregame whether he would play the bench in some semblance of how he might want to manage rotations during a regular game, and Carlisle responded, "Stay tuned." It did, in fact, seem that Carlisle had some very purposeful substitutions, though, so it seems likely he did, at least for a while, try to run something of a regular rotation of guys.

So many other things I could point out, but let's just say the first quarter showed that the Mavericks will have a LOT of creative options on offense. Not as sure about that zone defense early on -- it seemed to work for a bit, but as the second quarter rolled on, either the Cavs figured it out or the Mavs' role players need a little more polish (or both).

The Mavericks' lead was once as high as 13 but once the Cavs finally got into gear, the end of the half saw the teams virtually neck-and-neck. The half ended with the Mavs forcing a couple of Cleveland shot clock violations after a flurry of three point shooting, Mavs up 56-55. It was a pretty balanced attack for the starters, with Dirk, Ellis, and Nelson co-leading scoring with 11 points a piece. As for the bench, Greg Smith had a pretty big rebound that made me take notice, and I thought Aminu might have had the play of the half with that coast-to-coast steal and slam.

The Mavs rolled out the same starting five to start the third, and both teams came out shooting, trading threes all over the place: Kyrie, answered by Nelson, then LeBron, then Parsons, etc. Balanced scoring continued among the starting five, which is certainly nice to see in early returns that Dirk, or even Monta, may not have as much pressure to carry on the scoring end.

But then it became the Chandler Parsons Show, as they went up 16 points on a 11-0 run, driven mostly by Parsons. He also seemed to do a nice job defending LeBron, for whatever that's worth in the preseason. Nelson continued his hot shooting as well, and the third quarter ended with the Mavs up 88-78

Cleveland would quickly chip away at the Mavs' lead in the fourth though, trimming it to a three point game just a couple minutes into the final quarter. They came out on an 11-0 run of their own, without LeBron. The Cavs pushed the tempo and seemed to stay within five for a while. The Mavs finally seemed to figure things out once Carlisle rotated some of the starters back in, though, and Devin Harris hit an impressive pull-up three to put the Mavs back up by 10.

The reserve players for Cleveland hit back to back threes to threaten the Mavs lead once again, as Carlisle chose to stay mostly with his starters as the fourth rolled on. Of note, Monta did come up limping with about five minutes left in the game, which is a little concerning coming off the left knee sprain suffered just last week. He didn't come back into the game, and we'll update as we hear more postgame.

Mekel and Wright did see some action towards the end of the fourth as the Cavs almost drew even with the Mavericks, and both made some critical plays down the stretch to keep the Mavericks in control the rest of the way, and they defeated the Cavs to make it 2-2 on the preseason.

What did you guys like and not like about how the Mavs looked tonight? What are the biggest things they still need to improve on in the second half of the preseason? Shout it out in the comments.