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The Cavaliers capped off their four-game homestand with a much-needed victory on Saturday night, but the sledding gets tougher again as they hit the road for three games – beginning with a Monday night matchup with the Mavericks in Dallas.
Cleveland snapped a season-long five-game skid with Saturday’s win over the Magic, jumping out to a solid lead after intermission and pulling away down the stretch. But the best news of the night came before the game, when the team formally announced the return of Evan Mobley.
The Wine & Gold’s prized rookie shook off some initial rust and came up big again, swatting a game-high four shots – his third contest this season with four blocks – to go with 13 points on 5-of-12 shooting, including 2-of-4 from deep, adding nine boards and three assists.
Darius Garland led both teams with a season-best 26 points – his sixth 20-point game in his last eight outings – going 11-for-21 from the floor and adding a game-high 11 assists.
Jarrett Allen notched his third straight double-double – and eighth in his last 10 games – finishing with 19 points and a team-best 11 boards, going 8-of-9 from the field, adding three assists and a pair of blocks. And Lauri Markkanen finished with 20 points on 8-of-13 shooting, including 4-of-8 from beyond the arc, for his second 20-point outing in three games since his return.
The Mavericks fell three times in a recent four-game trip and lost to the Wizards in their return home on Saturday night. Luka Doncic led both teams with 33 points and 11 assists, but no other Dallas player had more than 14 points in the loss.
Dallas has dropped five of its last eight games after getting off to a strong start, but still lead the Southwest Division with a 10-8 mark.
On the Wine & Gold’s three-game trip this week, they’ll face three division leaders – traveling to Miami on Wednesday, where they’ll try to snap a 20-game slide on South Beach, before closing out in D.C. against a Wizards team tied with the Heat atop the Southeast Division.
The recent history of this head-to-head matchup ain’t been pretty from the Cavs end. The Mavericks have swept the season series in each of the last three seasons, and they’ve been dominant doing so – winning the last four by an average of just over 27 points per. The overall series, however, is very tight – with Dallas holding just a single game edge, 40-39, in the all-time head-to-head.
The single-game rebounding leader in the series for the Mavericks is Dirk Nowitzki, who pulled down 20 boards in a 2007 loss in Dallas. For Cleveland, the all-time mark was set by one of the most underrated Cavaliers in franchise history – Cliff Robinson, who averaged 17.7ppg in three seasons in the early ‘80s – and led the team with 22 boards in this particular 1983 win – joining World B. Free with a team-best 23 points.
Cavaliers assistant coach Greg Buckner was originally drafted by the Mavericks – taken with the 53rd overall pick out of Clemson in 1998, the same year Dallas traded for Dirk Nowitzki at the top of the first round.
Buckner spent four seasons in two separate stints with the Mavericks, playing in 129 games through his first three years before returning for a single season in 2006-07. The Kentucky native has been on the Cavaliers staff for the past two seasons and was with J.B. Bickerstaff in his previous two jobs in Memphis and Houston.