NBA Basketball: Cleveland Cavaliers at Dallas Mavericks - Mavericks Favored
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One of the top defensive efforts in franchise history allowed the Dallas Mavericks to record the best month they've ever had. They may need another impressive one against LeBron James to begin this month by matching another team record.
The Mavericks look to equal a franchise-best 14-game winning streak and prevent James from having another big game against them on Thursday in their first matchup of the season with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Dallas (48-9) set a team record for fewest points allowed as it beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 91-65 on Tuesday to notch its second 13-game win streak of the season. The win completed a 10-0 February, the first perfect month in team history.
The Mavs also have a 12-game run and are the only team in NBA history with three winning streaks of 12 or more in a season. They now look to tie the team's longest winning streak, set when the 2002-03 squad opened the season with 14 straight victories.
But that success doesn't mean much to the Mavericks unless it leads to their ultimate goal - the team's first NBA championship.
"Nobody's in here jumping up and down," said guard Jason Terry, who had 18 points and seven assists Tuesday.
Dallas also takes a team-record 20-game home winning streak into this contest, dating to a Dec. 7 loss to Detroit.
"They're definitely playing out of this world," James said. "They're like the Detroit team of last year in the regular season, just winning a lot of ballgames on the road and at home. They have a 20-game home winning streak, so we have to mentally be focused and approach that game like it's our last and hopefully try to get a win."
James has never won in Dallas and the Cavaliers have lost six straight there since March 23, 2000, getting outscored by 19 per game. However, James has led Cleveland to wins in two of the last three meetings, averaging 39.7 points in that span.
James scored 46 in a 107-94 win in the last matchup on March 29, increasing his career average in six games against Dallas to 30.3 points - second-best versus any opponent. The All-Star forward has been hot lately, averaging 32.0 points in his last five games overall - a boost from his 26.7 season mark.
He will be facing a Dallas defense which allowed its lowest opponent field-goal percentage (29.6) of the season on Tuesday, holding the Timberwolves to eight points in the second quarter and 12 in the fourth.
That type of defense has become signature for the Mavs, who rank among the NBA leaders in points allowed at 92.1 per game. Continuing that play may be difficult against James, who is averaging 30.5 points since the All-Star break.
He had 35 points Tuesday, including two key 3-pointers in the final minute, to help the Cavaliers (33-24) rebound from back-to-back losses with a 97-89 win over the New Orleans Hornets.
"I've been playing great basketball since the All-Star break individually," said James, who added eight assists and five rebounds. "I feel the best I've felt all year."
Teammate Sasha Pavlovic hasn't been feeling his best. The forward returned to the court Tuesday after being sidelined for two contests with the flu, but rolled his right ankle. His status is uncertain for this contest.
Dallas could be without guard Greg Buckner, who has missed the last two games due to a bruised left knee.
The Mavericks, by far the league's best home team at 27-3, are opening a three-game stretch at the American Airlines Center. They also will face Orlando and New Jersey.
By: Marc Young - theSpread.com - Email Us
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