The Mavs will try to get back on track tonight after an up-and-down loss to the Utah Jazz last night. The Cavaliers (13-16) might be just what the doctor ordered. On opening night, the Mavs destroyed the Cavs 92-74 in one of the Cavaliers worst games of the season. The Mavs have now won three straight against Cleveland and 12 of their last 14. The Cavaliers have also lost seven straight road games. This will be the Mavs' final regular-season game against Cleveland.
The Mavs hassled LeBron into his worst game of the season in Game 1 with 10 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists on 2-of-11 shooting. Of course, almost every game thereafter, he has responded with some really impressive MVP numbers and is now averaging a league-high 29.3 along with 7.7 assists and 7.2 rebounds. He was injured for five games in early December and has bounced back pretty well since. He is still putting up really high numbers, but they aren't quite as high as they were pre-injury. The Cavs lost all five games that LeBron missed, and have gone 4-4 since his return.
Varejao is back
After missing the first quarter of the season due to a contract holdout, Brazilian forward Anderson Varejao was offered a contract by the Charlotte Bobcats, which the Cavaliers had the option to match since Varejao was a restricted free agent. Cleveland opted to match the offer, and Varejao has been on the floor for eight games now. His numbers may not be too impressive (8.1 points and 8 rebounds), but Varejao provides things that the Cavaliers desperately need. He provides depth and energy off the bench and is a very efficient player. He is also a solid defender, which is something the Cavs tends to lapse in during stretches.
Keep them out of the paint
The Cavaliers are a weak team when forced outside the paint. LeBron is almost always attempting to slash, and Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Drew Gooden like to set up shop there too. Cleveland is about middle-of-the-pack in three-point percentage, but can go on hot streaks. If they do get into the paint, the Mavs need to foul them. They are 25th in the league in free-throw percentage, and that is an advantage the Mavs should surely use in their favor.
Random useless fact
Somehow, Zydrunas Ilgaukas' favorite movie is Scarface.
-Scooter Hendon, Hoops Nerd