Game 34: Mavs at Cavs
Quicken Loans Arena
Radio: WTAM-AM 1100, WMMS-FM 100.7, La Mega-FM 97.7
TV: Fox Sports Ohio
1. Just what the Cavaliers needed - another injury. All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving missed most of the second half with tightness in his lower back. He took an extremely hard fall in the Charlotte game on Friday, and it finally caught up to him Sunday. The Cavs announced he wasn't going on the road trip to Philadelphia. He played the first 5:18 of the second half and then sat down. He ended with six points and three assists in the game. He had scored 23 or more points in each of the previous five games before Sunday.
2. The Cavaliers' defense was severely challenged in this matinee affair. The Mavs are the highest-scoring team in the league (109.9), second in field-goal percentage (47.8) and seventh in assists (23.3). Since Nov. 24, the Cavs' defense is allowing 97.2 points per game, third-lowest in the NBA. It was no contest. The Mavs shot 56.4 percent from the field and 46.2 percent from behind the arc. They dished out 30 assists.
3. Players just perform better against certain teams. For Cavs power forward Kevin Love, that team is the Mavericks. He has now scored 30 or more points in six of his last seven meetings vs. Dallas. He fired in a season-high 30 points and pulled down 10 rebounds on Sunday. He was 11 of 21 from the field, 3 of 7 from behind the arc. He has to become the focal point of the offense with All-Star LeBron James sidelined.
4. The Mavs are 6-2 since acquiring point guard Rajon Rondo on Dec. 18. They have now ripped off five wins in a row, as well as eight of their last 10. This is a talented and extremely deep team and very well-coached.
5. The Cavs have now lost their last five meetings against Dallas, including their last three at The Q. The Cavs snapped a three-game losing streak with a victory at Charlotte last Friday. Another streak could be on the horizon. I just don't see how they are going to win games without Anderson Varejao (torn Achilles' tendon), James (lower back strain, left knee strain) and Irving - even against the 76ers.
6. Dallas' backcourt is as deep as any team in the league. Rondo and Monta Ellis are in the starting lineup. They come off the bench with Devin Harris, Raymond Felton and JJ Barea. Ellis fired in a team-high 20 points, while Barea was outstanding off the bench with 14.
7. What makes the Mavs so good is they also have great size, with two 7-footers in the starting lineup in Dirk Nowitzki and Tyson Chandler. Throw in small forward Chandler Parsons, and one can see why they are so good. The Cavs had interest in Parsons last summer in free agency, but eventually signed James instead.
8. The Cavs are in the midst of playing seven of their next eight games against Western Conference teams (counting Dallas). They are 4-7 vs. the West this season.
9. Cavs reserves Shawn Marion and Brendan Haywood played on Dallas' 2011 NBA championship team. Marion had a season-high 13 points and four rebounds against his old team.
10. Dallas is 10-0 on the road against the Eastern Conference this season.
C Tristan Thompson (6-10, 238) vs. Tyson Chandler (7-1, 245)
Mavs - G Ricky Ledo