If you are not the Sacramento Kings, beware: the Dallas Mavericks (39-28) have hit their stride. The Mavericks are 9-2 since April 18, with both of those losses coming to the Kings. They’re playing good basketball right now and it couldn’t come at a more ideal time. They continued their hot streak on Friday when they throttled the Cavs, 110-90. They’ll look to repeat that performance tonight. Let’s look at some keys to the game:
Let’s tell it how it is: Dallas would be helping Cleveland achieve their organizational goals by handing them another loss in this game. The Cavaliers are 2-13 in their last 15 games, the second worst winning percentage in the league over that span. The Mavericks should do Cleveland a favor tonight by handing them a loss and going on their way. But I’d really enjoy it if the Mavericks could do it quickly and safely.
Including this one, there’s only five more games left on Dallas’s schedule. It’s almost the most important time of the year and the last thing the team needs is another injury while Maxi Kleber and Kristaps Porzingis deal with their own issues. Tim Hardaway Jr. turned his ankle badly the other night, Jalen Brunson enjoys catapulting himself towards the bucket when driving, and I’m about to check the NBA rules to see if Luka Doncic can play in a flak jacket.
Here’s the blueprint for an ideal night in Cleveland: get your starters some good looks in the first, allow them build a big lead in the second, and don’t let them deep into the third quarter. Keep them fresh and Dallas will be just fine.
Letting the starters take a good chunk of the night off means you are going to have to tap into the bench. Look no further than your rookies, who likely won’t see many minutes in the playoffs.
Josh Green has been awesome lately and it feels like he’s changed the entire game’s energy when he checks in. Green also tallied six points and five rebounds against the Cavs on Friday. Nate Hinton also looked good in his 13 minutes, scoring eight points and grabbing three rebounds. Tyler Bey continues to be a bit of a mystery but maybe that changes tonight.
Too much to ask for?
Cleveland is simply not good and I’ve run out of things to touch on about this game. Dallas should win and if they don’t, it will be for an unforeseen reason (like Doncic sitting). So with that said, let’s make every coach in the world angry: let’s look ahead of this game.
The Mavericks have five games left: this one, one against the Grizzlies which will be tough, one against a Zion-less Pelicans team, and then they wrap things off with the Raptors and the Timberwolves, who are two teams that are at this point only competing for Cade Cunningham. If Dallas wins out, they’ll enter the playoffs on an eight game winning streak. That would be their longest winning streak in the Luka Era, so it’s probably too greedy to think about. But it’s interesting to ponder what all that momentum could do to a team entering the playoffs. Even if they don’t rifle off a run that crazy, if they take care of business where they should, I’ll feel good about this team heading into the postseason.
How to watch
This game will start at 6 p.m. CST and will be televised on Bally Sports Southwest.