The Dallas Mavericks (2-10) look to put together their first winning streak of the season when they face a Cleveland Cavaliers (5-7) squad that isn’t exactly the powerhouse team we’ve come to expect. The Cavs have lost six of their last eight games, including losses to the Brooklyn Nets and Atlanta Hawks.
The Mavericks should be well rested having not played since Tuesday in a strong performance against the Washington Wizards. Although the Cavs are in a bit of a slump, like Rick Carlisle alluded to, LeBron James can flip the script in the blink of an eye. Cleveland boasts a high-powered offense, which could prove to be difficult for the Mavericks suspect defense. It should be a fun, Saturday night game, so here’s what to watch for.
Does Dennis Smith Jr. finally catch a break?
After facing a gauntlet of star point guards and elite big men, Smith Jr. finally gets a chance to breathe. Nothing comes easy in the NBA, but Cleveland doesn’t have a guard on the roster that stacks up to the competition Junior has faced thus far.
All things considered, Smith Jr. has played well through 10 games, but he’s been plagued by turnovers and hasn’t earned free throws at a desirable clip. The Cavs might be the perfect remedy. The Cleveland backcourt is attackable, and as a team, they are in the bottom ten in blocked shots per game. After breaking out in a head-to-head matchup with John Wall, another big game from Smith Jr. might be in the cards.
Who stops who?
There should be nothing short of offensive fireworks for no reason other than two of the worst defensive teams in the league will be on the same court tonight. The Mavs 109.1 defensive rating is the 27th worst in the NBA, while the Cavs 113 defensive rating is dead last. Dallas should have no problem scoring as Cleveland has allowed 112 or more points in 10 straight games. However, the Cavs also have the third-highest offensive rating at 111.5, so it will take a tough, gritty effort for the Mavericks to slow down James and his crew.
The Mavs could win this from deep
The Mavericks rely heavily on the three ball. This season, 38 percent of the Mavs’ field goal attempts are from deep, which is third most behind the Rockets and Warriors, and 36 percent of the Mavs’ points come from three-point makes, second only to the Rockets. Even more, the Mavs are shooting 32 three-point attempts per game, which is fourth most in the NBA.
The Cavaliers, on the other hand, have been terrible defending the three-point line this season. They are allowing opponents to shoot a league high 41 percent from deep and make a league leading 14 three pointers per game. Wesley Matthews, Dirk Nowitzki, J.J. Barea and Yogi Ferrell are all shooting north of 40 percent from three, and if they get hot, the Mavs will have chance to earn the third win of the season.
How to watch
The game tips off at 7:30 central and can be watched on FSSW or NBA League Pass.