The Cavaliers look to set a franchise record for consecutive wins, continue their dominance at home and sweep their season series with the Mavericks for the first time in nine years Sunday.
Cleveland (59-13) began the season 1-2 before beating Dallas 100-81 on Nov. 3, the first of eight straight wins. Now, the Cavaliers have won 11 straight for the second time this season and a victory Sunday would give them their longest winning streak in team history.
“We just approach each game like it’s our last,” Cleveland star LeBron James said. “It starts with me going out there with a mind-set that we aren’t going to lose this ballgame.”
Dominance at home has helped launch the Cavs to the top of the Eastern Conference, as they have gone 34-1 at Quicken Loans Arena. Cleveland has lost two straight and five of its last seven at home versus Dallas (43-29), but this is easily the strongest Cavs team during that stretch and it has an excellent chance to sweep the season series for the first time since 1999-00.
Kidd missed Dallas’ 103-101 loss to Denver on Friday night, sitting out for the first time after playing 100 straight games since being acquired in a trade with New Jersey last year. Jason Terry moved to point guard and forward James Singleton got his first start of the season.
Singleton started for Howard, who has missed 10 straight games.
With two of their top players out, the Mavs shot 35.6 percent and lost for the first time in 10 home games. Dallas, trying to hold on to eighth place in the West, faces a daunting final 10 games, including matchups with Miami, Phoenix, Utah, New Orleans and Houston.
“We’ve got to shake this off as soon as we can and get ready for this next stretch of games,” Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said. “Difficult stretch. It’s tough, not going to lie to you.”
Dallas needs a better effort from All-Star forward Dirk Nowitzki to have any chance of upsetting Cleveland. He had eight points on 3-for-11 shooting in the first matchup between the teams this season.
Nowitzki, who has averaged at least 23.0 points each of the last five seasons, has been held under 20 in his last three games against Cleveland.
Nowitzki scored 26 points versus Denver, but made only 1-of-9 shots in the second half and clearly missed Kidd. If healthy, Kidd will match up with Cleveland’s Mo Williams, who is expected to play despite spraining the pinkie on his right hand early in the fourth quarter of the Cavs’ 107-85 win over Minnesota on Friday night.
X-rays were negative.
“It’s sore and everything is all right,” Williams said. “I’ll be ready to play Sunday.”
Williams is averaging 21.0 points and shooting 54.0 percent (27-for-50) from 3-point range in his last seven home games.