DALLAS - Coming off of consecutive victories against Eastern Conference playoff teams, the Dallas Mavericks continued their momentum. This time, with a 110-90 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers at the AAC.
The Mavericks took commanding control of this matchup early and put the game out of reach from a potential comeback effort. Dallas outscored the Cavaliers by double-figures in each of the initial two periods and held a staggering 62-37 lead at halftime.
Luka Doncic and Tim Hardaway Jr. continued to set the tone for the Mavericks in this outing as they have throughout their recent contests. Doncic finished the first half with 18 points and 6 rebounds and Hardaway Jr. chipped in 15 points.
To put it how lopsided the first half was into perspective, the Mavericks even had Josh Richardson (11) also top the Cavaliers' top scorer, which was Cedi Osman with 10. Additionally, Cleveland was contained to terrible shooting clips of 14-of-45 (31.1%) from the field and 2-of-18 (11.1%) from deep.
“I really loved our first half,” Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said. “I thought defensively we did many, many good things – a couple of mistakes here and there.
The Cavaliers made an admirable attempt to push back in the second half but did not have enough execution to get the job done. Cleveland managed to outscore the Mavericks in the third quarter but did so by just a mere four-point margin.
“They made some runs in the second half," Carlisle said. "But the group that finished with (Nate) Hinton and (Josh) Green, (Jalen) Brunson, Burke, (Dwight) Powell or (Willie) Cauley-Stein did a really good job holding the fort there. I didn’t want to have to put the starters back in, so props to them.”
Dallas entered the final period holding a 110-90 lead and that was more than enough for Doncic to not have to play a single second for the rest of the way. In fact, the same applied for Hardaway Jr. and even Richardson and Dorian Finney-Smith.
The top priorities for the Mavericks right now are to avoid the NBA Play-In Tournament while staying healthy in the process. Managing to achieve each of those with this win while Doncic played only 23 minutes is as close to a perfect outcome as possible.
“Obviously every win is really important and we’ve got to see these guys in a couple of days,” Carlisle said. “It’s important to get this win and try to get through this game unscathed and get ready for Sunday.”
On top of all of that, Doncic managed to achieve an impressive career milestone by surpassing 5,000 career points. He finished his performance with more points (24) than minutes (23) and added 8 rebounds to go along with it. Meanwhile, Hardaway Jr. (20) and Richardson (18) joined Doncic as the Mavericks' double-figure scorers.
The Cavaliers received 27 points from Collin Sexton and 22 from Cedi Osman and had someone been told that would happen before this game, the assumption would be they had a strong game. Especially when factoring that Isaac Okoro had 15 points, too. Well...the rest of the team combined for just 26 points on 9-of-35 (25.7%) shooting from the floor.
The Dallas Mavericks will face the Cleveland Cavaliers yet again on Sunday, but this time it will be at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.