Why Dallas Mavericks should not overlook Cavaliers: 3. Defense
Last season, the Cavs finished last in defensive rating by giving up 114.8 points per 100 possessions. Their poor defense resulted in 22 wins and tied for the fourth-worst record in the league.
Cleveland moved up to third overall in the lottery and selected Evan Mobley out of USC. The seven-footer has surprisingly been an outstanding defender as a rookie. The 20-year-old can get out on the perimeter and is blocking 1.8 shots per game.
The Cavaliers also added Lauri Markkanen and Ricky Rubio during the offseason. They are starting three big men after trading for Jarrett Allen last season. Their size and length have paid dividends as Cleveland has jumped to eighth in defensive rating at 105.1.
The Dallas Mavericks must be ready to protect their home floor because the Cavaliers will get stops. If Luka Doncic is locked in, he can break down any defense, but expect the Mavs to struggle when the 22-year-old superstar is on the bench.
The Mavs need Jalen Brunson back in the lineup. He is listed as questionable, but practiced on Sunday and is trending towards returning after missing Saturday’s game with a foot injury. Cleveland is a top-ten defense, and Dallas must come out attacking to pick up a win at the American Airlines Center.