DALLAS – The Cavaliers’ lone visit to Dallas this year. The Mavericks split their first two games, but Dirk Nowitzki and Josh Howard have come out strong to start the season. Nowitzki will get his, as will Howard, but look for the Cavs to come out strong in this one.
Dallas is still getting used to new coach Rick Carlisle, who Cleveland’s coach, Mike Brown, worked under after years with Avery Johnson. Mavs point guard Jason Kidd is starting to find his way in the offense and averages close to 10 assists per game in the very young season.
To be fair, most of the news coming out of the Cavs these days relates more to how the Detroit Pistons trade of Chauncey Billups and Antonio McDyess to the Denver Nuggets for Allen Iverson would affect the team.
Game: Cavaliers (2-2) vs. Dallas Mavericks (1-2)
Radio: WAKR (1590 AM); WTAM (1100 AM), WHBC (1480 AM)
Starters: Cavs: LeBron James (F); Ben Wallace (F); Zydrunas Ilgauskas (C); Mo Williams (G); Delonte West (G). Mavericks: Josh Howard (F); Dirk Nowitzki (F); Eric Dampier (C); Jerry Stackhouse (G); Jason Kidd (G)
Officials: Steve Javie, Rodney Mott, Scott Wall
Three things to watch:
1) LeBron James has to break out sooner or later. In the first three games of the season he’s averaging under 20 points per game. He doesn’t seem to be worried about it, but he needs to lead the way in scoring while he receives supporting play from those around him.
2) Turnovers, turnovers, turnovers. In two of the first three games, the Cavs have gone above their own established limits for not taking care of the ball. Not surprisingly, those are the two games that they’ve lost.
3) Mo Williams acknowledges that he’s not as comfortable in the Cavaliers’ offense as he’d like to be. His continued integration in the offense is essential tonight.
Mike Brown on the Detroit trade:
”Trades happen all the time and they can happen any time. There have been a lot of them that caught you off guard and you say ‘Oh, wow. That’s interesting,’ This is one of them, but not necessarily one that I think could be unexpected period. It’s an interesting trade and I think it has a chance to help both ball clubs.’’
From the locker room:
Ben Wallace on his former team’s trade:
“I’m used to seeing Chauncey (Billups) in a different uniform. He’s been there before. He’ll be all right. He’s back home…We’ll be watching them to see what they’re doing."
On Detroit whether losing big man Antonio McDyess will affect Detroit:
“It might. It might not. Maybe they feel the young guys are ready to play.
Three keys to the win:
1) Mo Williams, after starting out a bit slow in the Cavaliers first few games, showed why the team traded for him in the off-season. Williams scored 14 points, dished out 6 assists and only had two turnovers to key the win. More importantly, he did much of his damage in the fourth quarter to key a 13-0 run by the Cavs to start the period. Williams created his own shot off the dribble and did most of it with LeBron James on the bench.
2) Defense. Defense. Defense. The Cavs held the Mavericks to just 40.8 percent shooting from the floor on 29-of-71 shots for the night. The blocked six shots and dominated the boards 52-35. They out hustled the Mavericks on both ends of the court. If you’re looking to pass out praise in this effort, look to Ben Wallace and Anderson Varejao who clamped down on Dirk Nowitzki, holding him to just 8 points on 3-of-11 shooting.
3) LeBron James got untracked – sort of. James scored a total of 29 points on 8-of-20 shooting for the game. Those numbers aren’t glowing but he drove to the basket aggressively drawing fouls from Mavericks. He hit 13-of-15 charity shots.
Coach Mike Brown on Mo Williams:
‘’Mo is a guy we feel who can go out there and create shots for himself and create shots for others and that’s what we did tonight. We just called his number at the top of the floor, put him in a couple of pick-and-roll situations and told them to sit with their hands ready because we felt he was going to score or make the right pass.’’
LeBron James on his game:
“I didn’t think I shot the ball particularly well from the field like I know I can. But I was able to get into the lane and knock down my free throws. I was in attack mode all night, taking some shots I know I can make and I felt good. The guys really took care of their business early in the fourth.