Cleveland (26-9) at Dallas (22-16)
When: Tuesday, January 12th 2016
Where: American Airlines Center, Dallas, TX
Time: 8:35 ET | TV: FSN Ohio, FSN Southwest
The Cleveland Cavaliers begin a tough Texas swing tonight when the visit the Dallas Mavericks. Cleveland breezed through the first three games of their six-game road trip, but will face Dallas tonight, followed by San Antonio and Houston. The Cavaliers are riding high since Kyrie Irving has been back in the lineup. Cleveland is averaging 113.4 points a game this month and Irving has started all five after sitting out a couple of back-to-backs in late December. Irving had a season-high 32 points last week at Washington, but has scored just 21 in the last two games including a 3-for-15 night at Philadelphia. LeBron James is shooting 58.8% over his last five games and poured in 37 on 15-of-22 shooting in Cleveland’s 95-85 win at Philadelphia on Sunday. The Cavs have won seven straight overall and have a 4.5 game lead over the Bulls in the Central Division and a four-game lead of Toronto for the top seed in the East. Cleveland’s defense is also stepping up limiting five of their last seven opponents to less than 100 and three of them less than 90. They’re ranked 3rd in points allowed (95.1).
The Mavericks also have a tough stretch coming up including tonight. They visit Oklahoma City, Chicago, and San Antonio in their next three games. The Mavericks have won three of four after a 93-87 win in Minnesota on Sunday. Dirk Nowitzki went off for 29 points in that game on 12-of-22 shooting including 4-of-7 from three-point range. He has now scored 20 or more points in four straight games and is averaging 17.7 for the season. Point guard Deron Williams has cooled off since his 25 point performance last week against Sacramento. In the last two games he’s scored just 9 points on 4-of-15 shooting and has committed eight turnovers. Center Zaza Pachulia is averaging a double-double this season (10.7 points, 10.8 rebounds) and has 26 rebounds in the last two games. Dallas is 10.5 games behind San Antonio in the Southwest Division, but just three games back of the Clippers for that all-important 4th seed in the West. The Mavs were handled at home last year to this Cleveland team 127-94 and hope to extract a little revenge.
I think Dallas has enough here to keep this one close and possibly win it. Six points is a lot to lay on a road favorite in the NBA. Look for Dirk to have a big game and for Williams to find his scoring touch again.
Pick: Mavericks +6