Setting the Table: Cleveland Cavaliers (Game 11)

Posted by Bryan Gutierrez on November 17, 2012 under Previews | Be the First to Comment

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The Mavericks have dropped four of their last five games and are now 5-5 on the year. The Mavericks have never had a below-.500 record at any point this season. They are looking to avoid that situation as they take on the Cleveland Cavaliers on the second night of a back-to-back. The Mavericks are 1-2 in the first half of a back-to-back and 0-2 in the second half of a back-to-back this season. The Mavericks have 16 back-to-backs in 2012-13, with only one stretch of four games in five nights. In total, 10 back-to-backs are on the road, three begin at home and conclude on the road and three are road-to-home. Dallas played 22 back-to-backs in 2011-12, going 7-15 in the first half and 13-9 in the second half of those back-to-backs.

The Cavaliers are an intriguing young team. They are led by second year guard Kyrie Irving. Irving is fifth in the league in points with 24.3 points/game. Dion Waiters is 2nd among rookies at 14.5 points/game. Darren Collison and O.J. Mayo will have to be on their game to combat the young Cavalier backcourt.

Here are notes for the game between the Mavericks and the Cavaliers.

Series Notes:

The Cavaliers snapped a three-game losing streak against the Mavericks with a 91-88 win at home on 2/4/12. It was the only meeting between the two teams last season. The Mavericks have still won 15 of the last 22 matchups with the Cavaliers. The Cavaliers have won 10 of the last 16 matchups in Cleveland.

It’s a Small World:

Cavaliers center Tyler Zeller was originally drafted by Dallas with 17th overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft but had his draft rights traded along with guard Kelenna Azubuike to Cleveland in exchange for the draft rights to the 24th overall pick Jared Cunningham, the 33rd overall pick Bernard James and the 34th overall pick Jae Crowder. Cavaliers forward C.J. Miles is from Dallas and attended Skyline High School. Cavaliers guard Donald Sloan (Seagoville HS) also attended high school in Dallas. Cavaliers assistant coach Joe Prunty was an assistant with the Mavericks from 2005-08. Cavaliers assistant coach Jamahl Mosely was an assistant with Denver when Dahntay Jones played for the Nuggets in 2008-09.

Three Keys:

1. Find an answer for the second half woes. Dallas has now been outscored in the second half by an average of 10.7 points. In addition, they have had six straight third quarters where they have scored 22 or fewer points. Most recently against the Pacers on Saturday, the Mavericks led 49-48 at the half. The Pacers used a 15-2 run (from the 5:19 mark of the third quarter through the 2:11 mark of the period) to open up a 15-point advantage (76-61). Indiana outscored Dallas 55-34 in the second half en route to the win. If there were an obvious answer for what is ailing the Mavericks, Rick Carlisle would have solved the issue. It appears there are little things here and there that need to be addressed because they are adding up in a hurry.

2. Protect the glass. After facing Roy Hibbert on Friday night (second in the Eastern Conference in offensive rebounds/game), they face Anderson Varejao (5.0 offensive rebounds/game), the Eastern Conference leader. Varejao is second in the entire league in terms of rebounding as he has pulled down 13.7 rebounds/game. Rookie Bernard James has seen his workload increase and that might be the case again on Saturday as they look for options to go up against Varejao. James posted a season-high nine points to go along with seven rebounds (3 offensive) and two blocks in 16 minutes at Indiana. It was his third game with at least six points and six rebounds.

3. Find a stronger sense of urgency. The first two keys flow harmoniously with the concept of effort and energy. No one is expecting Dallas to be an elite team with Dirk Nowitzki on the shelf and Shawn Marion just getting back into the swing of things. That being said, everyone does expect them to compete and execute. Things just aren’t working right now. One of coach Carlisle’s favorite go-to’s when things aren’t working is that they need to “circle the wagons.” It’s time for that. They need to trust each other, work and do whatever is necessary to get out of the funk they are currently in.

Bryan Gutierrez writes about sportsmen. He is a contributing writer for Mavs.com. Bryan also attended Ball So Hard University. You can follow him on Twitter @BallinWithBryan.