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Game Preview: Dallas Mavericks at Cleveland Cavaliers

Jerome Miron/USA Today Sports

Tonight the Cavaliers (4-0) will host the Mavericks (1-2) at Quicken Loans Arena. The last time the two teams went head-to-head was on February 3rd, 2014 of last season. In that contest the Cavaliers came in looking to spark a winning streak in the midst of a tough season while Dallas looked to cement their chances of earning a playoff spot in the ultra-competitive Western conference. The night ended in a 124-107 Dallas victory as the Mavericks were scorching hot from the field and simply outrebounded and outhustled the Wine and Gold.

LeBron James and company come into the game tonight after a perfect 4-0 start to the NBA preseason and a solid 98-93 win against the reigning central division champion Indiana Pacers on Wednesday night. After sitting out Tuesday’s game against the Milwaukee Bucks LeBron played like the star he’s always been, scoring a game-high 26 points on 9-12 (.750) shooting, four rebounds, three assists and one steal in just 24 minutes of action. Matthew Dellavedova (14 points & 4 assists) and A.J. Price (14 points & 4 rebounds) also played key roles in extending the Cavs win streak.

{adinserter 2} The Mavericks are coming into the game tonight off of their first win of the preseason, defeating the very same Indiana Pacers last Sunday at home 106-98 after losing to the Rockets and Thunder in their first two games . In the victory the Mavs got great contributions from former MVP and NBA champion Dirk Nowitzki (16 points & 5 rebounds) and Charlie Villanueva (16 points & 4 rebounds). The game was a tight one for three quarters until the Mavericks knocked down several big three-pointers in the fourth quarter that allowed them to build a lead they wouldn’t give up. The Mavericks go the win despite being heavily outrebounded throughout the match, especially on the offensive boards. This will surely have to change in a hurry if they are to be successful.

Tonight’s game will mark the first game Cavaliers forward Shawn Marion will have the opportunity to play against his former team, the Mavericks. Marion was a key cog in the 2011 NBA champion Mavericks, something that undoubtedly attracted the interest of the Cavaliers. Kyrie Irving will look to work on the in-game chemistry between LeBron and himself, something that will prove critical for the Cavs to find success this season. Tonight’s game will allow both teams valuable time to mesh both on offense and defense as both squads have new players this season. In the offseason the Cavs made headlines when they signed LeBron James, Kevin Love, Shawn Marion and other big name players. Not to be outdone, the Mavericks signed Tyson Chandler, Chandler Parsons and Jameer Nelson. All of these signings have the potential to immediately lift each franchise into the top four playoff spots in their respective conferences.

Tonight the Cavaliers will be resting Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson in the attempts to keep the valuable big men fresh for the coming games. Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving will make his preseason debut tonight as he returns from a lower leg injury. On the other side of the court, Dirk Nowitzki will be playing his second game since missing the Mavs’ first two games due to a right hip contusion. The Mavs will also have the services of Monta Ellis after the all-star guard missed the last two games with a sprained left knee. Mavericks guard Raymond Felton will miss the game with a high right ankle sprain.
The two teams will play each other twice in the coming 2014-15 regular season with matchups on Jan. 4 in Cleveland and March 10 in Dallas.

3 Keys to the Game:

1. The Return of Kyrie Irving: The Cavaliers will no doubt be looking for Irving to shake off any rust that might have accumulated in the past week and return to star form.

2. Kyrie and the King: Cleveland fans will have their first preseason opportunity to see how LeBron and Kyrie play together and can give defenses headaches.

3. Protecting the Paint and Working on the Boards: With two of their most important big men out for this contest (Love and Thompson) the Cavaliers will be looking for a team-wide defense and rebounding effort against the likes of Tyson Chandler and Dirk Nowitski.

The 7:30pm tipoff at the Q will be televised live nationally on NBATV and locally on SportsTime Ohio.

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