To say the Cleveland Cavaliers have not fared well against the Dallas Mavericks in recent years might be an understatement.
The Mavericks have swept the last three season series against the Cavaliers, winning those six games by an average margin of 21.2 points. The last four contests have been especially lopsided, with Dallas winning by an average of 27.3 points.
Cleveland looks to turn the tide Monday when the teams meet in Dallas.
The Cavaliers first need to figure out how to slow down Mavericks star Luka Doncic, who has averaged 26.6 points, nine rebounds and 8.2 assists in five career games against Cleveland.
Doncic had 33 points and 10 assists in Saturday’s 120-114 loss to the Washington Wizards as the Mavericks lost for the fourth time in their last five games.
Dallas guard Jalen Brunson, who ranks third on the team in scoring at 15.1 points per game, sat out with an injured left foot but could return on Monday.
With Brunson sidelined, Trey Burke continued to impress in an expanded role. Burke scored a season-high 14 points off the bench against Washington and has averaged double-digit minutes in Dallas’ last five games.
“My teammates trust me,” Burke said. “They know what I can do. In this league, you’ve got to learn how to stay ready.”
Cleveland is looking to build on the momentum from a 105-92 win over the Orlando Magic on Saturday, when the Cavs welcomed back rookie center Evan Mobley and snapped a five-game losing streak.
Mobley, who missed four games with a sprained right elbow, recorded 13 points, nine rebounds, three assists, four blocks and two 3-pointers in 33 minutes against the Magic.
The 7-foot Mobley has emerged as a Rookie of the Year favorite while averaging 14.5 points and 8.1 rebounds.
“It means everything to have him back because Evan wants to be great,” Cavaliers guard Darius Garland said. “That’s why he always puts in the work. He brings a lot to the team with the way he blocks shots, grabs rebounds and, of course, his dunking.”
Garland recorded 26 points and 11 assists against Orlando and has assumed a greater role with point guard Collin Sexton out for the season with a torn meniscus in his left knee.
The 21-year-old Garland is averaging 21.3 points, 2.8 triples, 6.4 assists and 1.3 steals over the past 10 games for the Cavaliers, who are allowing 102.9 points per game.
Cleveland has also received a spark from reserve forward Cedi Osman, who tallied 10 points and six rebounds against Orlando and has scored in double digits in four straight games.
“With the scoring we’ve lost because of injuries, he has picked up a lot of the slack,” Cavaliers coach J.B. Bickerstaff said. “When our second unit is in, we don’t take a step back. He has been a two-way player for us. He’s taken the challenge on the defensive end too. Cedi has been playing great basketball. He’s been exceeding his role.”
Osman is listed as questionable for Monday with a back injury. If he plays, he will look to continue his strong play against Dallas, which is 6-2 at home this season.
Mavs forward Maxi Kleber has blocked a shot in three consecutive games since missing nine games due to an oblique injury. The fifth-year pro had 13 points and six rebounds in 30 minutes against Orlando.