Sunday, September 25, 2022

Preview: Dallas Mavericks (47-29) at Cleveland Cavaliers (42-33)

The Cleveland Cavaliers were just getting used to playing without starting center Jarrett Allen, who has missed the past 11 games with a fractured left middle finger.

Now, they’ll likely have to adjust to playing without his replacement, Evan Mobley, who sprained his left ankle in the second quarter of the Cavaliers’ 107-101 win over the Orlando Magic on Monday.

The No. 3 overall pick in last year’s draft is averaging 14.9 points, 8.3 rebounds and 1.7 blocks. The Rookie of the Year candidate is expected to miss Cleveland’s home game against the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday and likely a few more.

The injury came on the same day the Cavaliers announced that valuable backup forward Dean Wade underwent season-ending knee surgery.

Lauri Markkanen, a 6-foot-11 forward, likely will shift over to the center position against Dallas. Coach J.B. Bickerstaff has a few options to round out the starting lineup. Veteran Kevin Love could be inserted in the starting lineup at power forward, and forward Lamar Stevens and 7-2 center Moses Brown likely will see increased playing time.

However, both Markkanen and Stevens were injured in the Orlando game. Markkanen bumped knees with Magic power forward Wendell Carter Jr. in the third quarter and was helped off the court by several players. He returned with nine minutes left in the game and scored 10 of his 20 points while helping the Cavaliers close the game on a 17-9 run.

Stevens collided with Orlando center Mo Bamba and landed on his left elbow. He stayed in the game but was in pain.

“Injuries take their toll on you mentally,” Bickerstaff said. “They can be a distraction.”

Love said the Cavaliers “just pushed through it.”

Cleveland (42-33) also got a strong performance off the bench by Dylan Windler, who grabbed a season-high nine rebounds.

“We needed every single one of them,” Love said.

The Mavericks (47-29), who hold fourth place in the Western Conference, ripped the visiting Los Angeles Lakers 128-110 on Tuesday. Luka Doncic finished with 34 points, 12 rebounds and 12 assists, and Dallas had seven players score in double figures.

The Cavaliers withstood a triple-double by Doncic in their 114-96 victory on Nov. 29. The three-time All-Star had 25 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists.

Doncic is the Dallas franchise leader in triple-doubles with 46, having logged his 10th of the season on Tuesday. The Slovenia native is averaging 28 points, 9.2 rebounds, 8.5 assists and 1.2 steals in the 2021-22 campaign.

Asked about his latest triple-double and what could follow, Doncic said, “I just hope many more. I don’t know what to say. I remember on draft night, I just wanted to be picked. I didn’t know I was going to have this impact. I just got to keep working and hopefully one day win the championship.”

The Mavericks are gunning for their first 50-win season since 2014-15. The game vs. Cleveland is the start of a four-game road trip for Dallas and the second half of its last back-to-back set of the season.

Sterling Brown and Trey Burke were both out for Dallas on Tuesday due to the NBA’s health and safety protocol.

Cavaliers guard Rajon Rondo is listed as doubtful for Wednesday after missing eight games because of a right ankle injury.

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