The Dallas Mavericks (10-8) look to regain their footing against the Cleveland Cavaliers (10-10), after losing at home to the Washington Wizards over the weekend. It’s been two weeks since the Mavericks have managed to string together wins, and yet still find themselves fourth in the Western Conference standings.
The Cleveland Cavaliers have fallen off some since their solid start, while losing guard Colin Sexton to a season ending injury in the process. Their star rookie, Evan Mobley, just returned from injury over the weekend.
Here is what we’ll be watching for:
The Mavericks have listed sixth man Jalen Brunson “Questionable” for tonight’s game as he recovers from last week’s foot injury. Bench guard Frank Ntilikina remains out due to injury.
Dallas, already limited on ball handlers, find themselves walking a tightrope while Brunson is away. It’s believed he should return soon, maybe even tonight.
But if he can’t go, how do they continue to manage? Trey Burke is the obvious next man up, but it’s clear he isn’t trusted to do much — he was impactful Saturday, but only played 11 minutes.
Head Coach Jason Kidd affirmed that Willie Cauley-Stein will remain starting center for the Mavericks. In his two starts Cauley-Stein has managed six points, five rebounds, and two blocks in 27 minutes.
Dwight Powell is clearly not the answer. The closing group, made up mostly of starters, has found life with Maxi Kleber. But Kidd has said he needs time to get his legs under him before getting opportunity as a starter. Funny, considering Kleber is already playing more than both Powell and Cauley-Stein.
Tonight that trio, plus Kristaps Porzingis, will have their hands full with Mobley and Jarrett Allen.
Since returning from injury Luka Doncic has looked fresh and effective. He is averaging 29.5 points and 9.5 assists while shooting 35-percent from three, up from 30-percent prior to the injury.
He’s been dynamic, even if he’s using games to work himself into shape. Maybe playing the Cavaliers jumpstarts him to a new level, as his 135 career Offensive-Rating against Cleveland is his best mark against any opponent.
Whether he shows on the injury report following Saturday’s game where he clearly favored that ankle is anyone’s guess. But for now, we’re choosing to believe he’ll play.
How to watch
Tip off is set for 7:30 CT and can be watched locally at BSSW and nationally on NBA LeaguePass.