Preview: Mavericks at Cavaliers
Updated On: Jan 19 2014 10:24:43 PM CST
With a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference still very much up for grabs, the Cleveland Cavaliers have to be encouraged by their performance over a grueling five-game West Coast road trip. Things get a lot easier for the Cavaliers as they kick off a five-game homestand Monday afternoon against the Dallas Mavericks. Cleveland fared well on the trek, posting a 3-2 record and finishing things off with a 117-109 triumph over the Denver Nuggets.The Mavericks will provide a stiff test for the Cavaliers - particularly on the defensive end. Dallas has won four of its last six games, scoring at least 107 points in each of them and reaching its high-water mark for the season in a 129-127 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday. The Mavericks are looking to bounce back from a dreadful 127-111 defeat at the hands of the Portland Trail Blazers - a game that wasn't nearly as close as the final score would suggest.TV: 1 p.m. ET, FSN Southwest (Dallas), FSN Ohio (Cleveland)ABOUT THE MAVERICKS (24-18): Dallas used the same word repeatedly when asked to describe its effort against the Trail Blazers: embarrassing. Head coach Rick Carlisle ripped his team for its lackluster effort in a statement game against one of the top teams in the NBA, saying that the only time his team competed was in the fourth quarter with the game well in hand. "The guys that were in there in the fourth really fought, which is great," he told the Dallas Morning News. "I'm going to find guys that will fight and get them in the game, simple as that."ABOUT THE CAVALIERS (15-25): It has been a dreadful season for reigning No. 1 overall pick Anthony Bennett, who has dealt with questions about his fitness level and work ethic while failing to make a dent in the Cleveland rotation. The defending Mountain West freshman of the year is averaging a paltry 2.4 points and 2.2 rebounds, but still has at least one fan - his former coach at UNLV. "The biggest thing with AB is, he's such a good guy that he's a pleaser," Dave Rice told the Cleveland Plain Dealer. "I think he feels a certain amount of responsibility because he was the No. 1 pick in the draft."BUZZER BEATERS1. Dallas has won back-to-back meetings and five of the last six.2. Mavericks leading scorer Dirk Nowitzki averages 20.1 points in 24 career games versus the Cavaliers.3. Cleveland is 6-7 against the Western Conference this season - the fifth-best mark among East teams.PREDICTION: Mavericks 104, Cavaliers 101
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