There’s no rest in the NBA! The Dallas Mavericks head to Cleveland to face the Cavaliers Wednesday night after defeating the Lakers on Tuesday evening. Dallas is fighting for a chance at the three seed in the Western Conference while the Cavaliers are fighting like hell to regain the sixth seed and avoid the play in tournament.
Early odds have the Mavericks as 4.5 point favorites, despite being on the road against a punchy Cavaliers team. That may have something to do with the injuries they’re dealing with as a team.
Let’s get right to things.
How do the injuries affect Cleveland?
As of this writing (about 11:00 pm CST on March 29th), the Mavericks have not yet submitted an injury report for the game as they’ve just finished up. Cleveland, however, is dealing with a lot.
Collin Sexton was already out for the year with a meniscus tear. Jarrett Allen is out indefinately with a finger fracture. That makes up to starters, for those counting. Then Tuesday afternoon, Rookie of the Year front runner Evan Mobley was listed as out with a bad ankle sprain. Rajon Rondo is doubtful with an ankle sprain of his own.
Don’t let these injuries fool you, the Cavaliers are a dangerous team lead by Darius Garland, but everyone else in the roster is playing up a slot or two higher in the rotation than is likely ideal. Hopefully, the Dallas defense can shut down Garland and Caris LaVert.
What will the encore be for Luka Doncic?
On Tuesday evening, Luka Doncic got another triple double, pouring in 34 points while grabbing 12 rebounds and dishing 12 assists.
Cleveland is a fascinating place for Luka to play as the greater area has one of the largest Slovenian populations in America and they always turn up to support him. Considering Luka had a 30 point triple double just five minutes into the third quarter against the Lakers, it’s hard to see him topping that.
And yet the Cavaliers don’t have any rim protection past Moses Brown now. Isaac Okoro will guard Luka well because he’s really good, but that doesn’t matter as Doncic always gets his. I’m curious to see what that will be.
Will the rest of the Mavericks play well on a second night of a back-to-back?
Dallas is 6-5 so far on the second night of a back-to-back, which is better than I initially assumed. At the moment, I believe Spencer Dinwiddie will sit as he’s not played in the second night yet, as he’s still coming back from ACL surgery.
That puts added pressure on the rest of the supporting cast, particularly on Jalen Brunson who quietly had a bad shooting gam against the Lakers (3 of 12, though he did get to the line six times, making them all). If Dallas wants to make a play for the three seed, this is a must win. Hopefully everyone else on the team plays well.
How to watch?
Dallas will play at 6:00 pm CST on Bally Sports Southwest. Whew that’s early.