After a dismal 1-5 road trip that took up a total of 11 days, the Cleveland Cavaliers (2-6) are finally back at Quicken Loans Arena to help right the ship. For one night the Wine and Gold will be back in town to face off against the Dallas Mavericks (5-5), a team that they were able to beat last season at home, while they were coming off of an NBA Championship victory. The game will be broadcasted locally at 7:30 p.m. on FSO (television) and WTAM (radio).
In the absence of All-Star Dirk Nowitzki, the Mavericks have been experimenting with putting together a cast of starting players that gives them the best chance to win. It will be exciting to see how players such as O.J. Mayo, who is leading the team with 21.5 points per game, will work together with Nowitzki in the hopes of another long playoff run. For now, here is how the teams match up statically:
Cavaliers (2-6, 1-1 home)
Offensive Efficiency – 99.5 (20th)
Pace – 97.8 (2nd)
Turnover Ratio – 15.4 (26th)
Effective Field Goal Percentage – 48.7 (13th)
Defensive Efficiency – 107.9 (30th)
Average Points – 97.9 (14th)
Average Rebounds – 40.1 (23rd)
Average Assists – 20.3 (23rd)
Average Points Allowed – 104.8 (29th)
Dallas Mavericks (5-5, 1-4 away)
Offensive Efficiency – 103.3 (8th)
Pace – 95.5 (8th)
Turnover Ratio – 13.6 (10th)
Effective Field Goal Percentage – 50.4 (7th)
Defensive Efficiency – 104.2 (25th)
Average Points – 100.5 (5th)
Average Rebounds – 41.9 (17th)
Average Assists – 21.3 (16th)
Average Points Allowed – 99.7 (22nd)
The Mavericks have experimented with some lineups early on in the season, but it seems that this team is at their best when Darren Collison, Mayo, Shawn Marion, Elton Brand and Brandan Wright are out on the floor. Wright, who is in his fifth season in the NBA, is playing fairly well as a starter after playing all 49 games off of the bench last season. Still, Wright needs to help tighten things up down low, as the Mavericks stand as one of the worst defensive teams in the league. As porous as the Cavaliers defense is, they will have to exploit this Dallas unit to win this game.
Let’s just face it; the Cavaliers aren’t going to win this game due to a collective defensive performance. The Mavericks have too good of an offense right now, even without Nowitzki, for the Cavaliers to make their main priority for this game to shut down their scoring efforts. Right now the Cavaliers rank second in the league in possessions per game, so they should use their up-tempo offense to open up high percentage shots. You may think that this may just lead to quicker buckets on defense, but the Wine and Gold should try to shoot for 10+ score-stop-score opportunities in this game.
That will only happen if the bench brigade can get a few stops whenever coach Byron Scott implements them into the lineup. With Tyler Zeller back in the lineup, and in a mask, the bench will gain one of their better offensive and defensive presences. I think it will be good for the Cavaliers to be back at home, and maybe this is just what they need to get back on the winning side of things.