Mavericks-Cavaliers Preview


While the Dallas Mavericks have been anything but consistent, O.J. Mayo has been nothing but steady.

Coming off their most lopsided loss of the season, Mayo and the Mavericks try to get back on track Saturday when they visit a Cleveland Cavaliers team that has dropped four straight.

Mayo has been one of the few constants for Dallas (5-5), which has lost four of five after a 4-1 start.

The sharpshooter scored a team-high 19 points Friday and hit a pair of 3-pointers - increasing his league-leading total to 31 - but it hardly helped as the Mavericks lost 103-83 at Indiana.

Vince Carter and Darren Collison were the only other Dallas players in double figures, with 10 apiece.

The Mavericks will have to play better down the stretch if they hope to avoid falling to 1-5 on the road after being outscored 55-34 in the second half against the Pacers.

"We can't seem to sustain anything," said forward Shawn Marion, who scored two points after missing five games with a strained MCL. "We are continuing to have lapses, mental lapses.''

Mayo, though, has been able to sustain his success on the offensive end. He's scored at least 18 points in each of the last eight contests, averaging 23.9 points on 51.6 percent shooting during that stretch.

With Mayo leading the way, the Mavericks are fifth in the league in scoring (100.5), eighth in field-goal percentage (45.7) and fourth in 3-point percentage (40.0) even after performing far below their season averages Friday.

That could spell trouble for the Cavaliers (2-6), who are 29th in the NBA in points allowed (104.8) and have given up 107.7 since a 94-84 season-opening victory over Washington last month.

After dropping the last four games on a six-game, 11-day road trip, the road-weary Cavaliers have had some time to work on their defensive woes since a 114-101 loss at Brooklyn on Tuesday night.

"I don't want to talk about the defense. There was nothing there defensively,'' coach Byron Scott said. "We've got to get more guys that are going to be competitive and passionate about the defensive end.''

Scott's two best players, Anderson Varejao and Kyrie Irving, have done all they can to keep the team competitive on the offensive end.

Varejao, the league's second leading rebounder (13.7), finished with a career-high 35 points and 18 rebounds against the Nets - his fourth game with at least 15 boards.

Varejao had 17 points and 17 rebounds in Cleveland's 91-88 home victory over Dallas last season.

Irving, the top scoring point guard in the league at 24.3 points per game, had 20 in that victory. The reigning rookie of the year is coming off a career-high 34 points and eight assists against Brooklyn.

However, rookie Dion Waiters has slowed after a fast start with just 16 points on 6 of 22 shooting in the last two games.

The Cavaliers should get a boost Saturday with the return of their other first-round pick, Tyler Zeller, who has been cleared to play with a mask to protect a broken cheekbone suffered when he was elbowed in the face by Clippers center DeAndre Jordan on Nov. 6.

Zeller, who has missed four games, had 15 points in 24 minutes against Los Angeles - doubling his scoring total from his first three NBA contests.