Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Dallas Mavericks Preview and Pick

Cleveland Cavaliers +2.5 (1-2) at Dallas Mavericks -2.5 (1-1) O/U 191.5 8:30 PM ET Monday November 3, 2008 on NBA TV
By Jason Green of

Tonight the Cavaliers travel to the Lone Star State to play the Dallas Mavericks. Something’s gotta give in this game, as the Mavericks are 0-1 at home and the Cavs are 0-2 on the road. One of those streaks will end tonight in the Big D.

Sportsbooks are listing the Mavericks as 2.5 point favorites with a total around 191.5 points. Wanna bet without the spread? The Mavericks are posted at -170 as home favorites while the Cavs are listed at +230 as away dogs.

The Mavs come into this game after beating Minnesota in the Land of 10,000 Lakes on Saturday 95-85. In that game the Mavs Dirk Nowitzki was the high scorer with 21 points on 8/17 shooting. PG Jason Kidd did not light up the scoreboard with only 9 points on only 4/11 shooting, but he flirted with a triple double with 9 rebounds and 7 assists.

For the game the Mavericks shot 37/83 for a FG% of 44.6%. On defense the Mavericks held the Timberwolves to only 31-79 shooting for a FG% of 39.2%. The Cavs come into this game after losing to the New Orleans Hornets 104-92 on Saturday night. The high scorer for the Cavs in that game was not LeBron James, as Zydrunas Ilgauskas went for 18 points on 8/11 shooting. James chimed in with 15 points on 6/15 shooting, but had 5 turnovers for the 2nd game in a row. For the game the Cavs shot well in the losing effort going 36/75 for a FG% of 48%. On defense the Cavs allowed the Hornets to shoot 36/76 for a FG% of 47.4%.

The season is young, but the Mavericks rank 10th in scoring per game (98.5 ppg), but they are shooting terrible from beyond the 3-point line (28%). Cleveland ranks 23rd in scoring (91 ppg) and are not much better from downtown shooting only 32% from 3 point land. The Cavs are shooting terrible from the charity stripe at 66.67%. The Mavs are playing better on the offense end, but the Cavs are playing better D. The Cavs are better that the Mavs in rebound differential by a wide margin (+5.7 to -4.5).

This season the Cavaliers are 2-1 against the spread while the Mavericks are 1-1 and in the Over/Under the Cavs are 1-2 and the Mavs are 1-1.

On the injury front Cleveland’s SG Delonte West is listed as day-to-day and Dallas’ SG Devean George is also listed as day-to-day.

The Cavaliers have high hopes this season since they finally snagged up a 2nd scorer to help out King James in Mo Williams, who comes over from the Bucks. Last year Williams averaged 17.2 ppg, but this year he is only averaging 13.3 ppg. However, the main reason the Cavs are below .500 is James is having trouble shooting the rock. James averaged 30 ppg last year shooting 48.4%, but this year he is only averaging 19.7 ppg shooting only 43.1%. The season is just a baby, but these 2 guys need to start shooting the pill if the Cavs are going to make a run at the Finals this year.

Dallas is sticking to their guns of Dirk Nowitski (28.5 ppg) and Josh Howard (21 ppg), while Jason Kidd leads the teams in rebounds and assists.

A key match up in this game is between the centers of Erik Dampier and Zydrunas Ilgauskas. Dampier is only averaging 5 ppg, while Ilgauskas is averaging 14.7 ppg. If Dampier steps up on defense and can contain Ilgauskas the Mavs should control this game, especially since LeBron and Williams are both struggling with their stroke. Even if Ilgauskas has a big game those 2 have to shoot better for the Cavs for them to win.

The Mavs will look to run tonight and the Cavs will have to play good transition defense with Kidd running the show and Howard and Nowitski filling the lane. Cleveland has struggled this season so far and playing the Mavericks in their house is not going to be an easy win.

Jason’s Pick: I see Dallas as a team that is in a decline. I think Cleveland comes in and beats them straight up tonight.