1. The first matchup between these two teams was on it’s way to being a blowout, but the Cavaliers made a late push. Which part of the game was more a better indicator of how the rematch will go down?
Chris Manning, Right Down Euclid EIC: Considering how awful the Cavaliers have been as of late, the answer has to be the former. Dallas, with Monta Ellis and Dirk Nowitzki as their primary options, is built to attack the Cavalier defense at their weakest points. They are also consistent and the Cavaliers just aren’t. For instance, without Dion Waiters getting his shots to fall, the Cleveland bench is dreadful. Even Kyrie Irving – their best scorer – hasn’t been reliable on a game-to-game basis. Throw in the fact that this game is in Dallas and that the Cavaliers are awful on the road and it’s pretty clear that the Cavaliers are set up for a loss.
Trevor Magnotti, Right Down Euclid Staff Writer: Agreed with Chris. This Cavs team has hit rock bottom chemistry-wise, and I can’t see them winning a road game against a potential playoff team when they’re looking like this. The Mavericks play a very strong, cerebral game, something the Cavs absolutely do not do, and even their random number generator of a player, Monta Ellis, is far, far better than the Cavs’ in Dion Waiters. I’m expecting this game to be a strangulation with piano wire for the Cavs.
Tim Cato, MavsMoneyball.com EIC: The Mavericks have made a habit out of blowing big leads, so this wasn’t an anomaly. To me, the close game at the end is what matters. Although I still give Dallas the edge, at home, there’s no doubt Cleveland is a threat if the Mavericks mess around.
2. The Mavericks have hit just 14 of 59 three point attempts in their last three games. What’s up with Dallas’s three-point shooting?
CM: Of late Jose Calderon has been bad – he only shot 37.2 percent from deep in January. Ellis hasn’t been good either, as he 24.2 percent from deep in January. The story is pretty straight forward her: Dallas’ best shooters just aren’t performing at their best level. And as the below shot chart shows, the Mavericks shoot just about average from deep..
TM: Not only have Calderon and Ellis been bad lately, the Mavericks’ bench has struggled from three-point range in the past couple weeks as well. Devin Harris is 2-9 in the last three games, and Jae Crowder and Vince Carter have been pretty streaky of late as well. This might be a cause for concern for the Mavericks, as they not only were pretty solid shooting threes before their recent stretch (Still at 37 percent for the season, seventh in the league), but they did this against Detroit, Houston, and Sacramento, none of whom are exactly the most threatening of perimeter defenses. This also might start to cut down the spacing the Mavericks have to operate with, as teams might catch on that Dallas hasn’t hit threes regularly. It will be interesting to see if they rebound against the Cavs, a league-average three-point defense.
TC: Three-point shooting is inherently streaky. Of late, the biggest problem has been Jose Calderon, who has made just 4-of-15 over his last three. No doubt he’ll correct the problem — he’s still shooting 44 percent from deep on the season — but when his shots aren’t going down, he’s a liability on the court because of his lack of defense.
3. Kyrie Irving was voted into the starting All-Star lineup by the fans despite having a slightly disappointing season — does he deserve the starting nod?
CM: In short, no. John Wall of the Washington Wizards and Kyle Lowry have both been statistically better and more efficient with the basketball. Irving hasn’t really improved, while Wall has taken a huge step forward in his development and Lowry is having the best season of his career. And if all things were equal – which again, they aren’t – both Lowry and Wall are on playoff teams. Irving isn’t, to be frank. How good a team shouldn’t be a major factor, but it should serve as an unofficial tiebreaker. But, again, if you just look at the resumes of each player, Irving is behind both Lowry and Wall. He should be an All-Star, but just not a starter.
TM: I’ll make the case for Wall time and again, seeing as I think Wall is a better fit for what I think the East will try to do in the game, which is run the floor. Wall’s superior court vision would make this a legendary lineup in transition, and I think that’s a huge reason to have him in there. However, I don’t see the All-Star starting lineups as meaning all that much. Wall will still play a ton in this game, as will Kyrie, and I’m happy we’ll get to see both play with elite talent again. Wall might even see more time than Kyrie; who knows. I’m just happy both guys made the team, because from an entertainment standpoint, these are the guys I want to watch. Apologies to Kyle Lowry, but I’d rather watch the more talented players having slightly worse seasons than a guy who isn’t as good that’s playing his nuts off. Chastize me all you want for that, but I want to enjoy the All-Star game rather than make sure that every single guy who had the best case statistically for the team made it.
TC: I say Kyrie’s having a disappointing season because that’s the common feeling around basketball twitter — he’s taking a lot of shots and his shooting numbers are a little bit down. I’m not the expert here, but from what I’ve seen, he’s shouldering more weight of the offense than he should. I’m fine with his starting nod, and I’ll focus my All-Star selection anger on a player like Kyle Lowry or Aaron Afflalo not making it.