Two lottery-bound teams that have been roughed up by playoff contenders hope to take out their frustrations on each other when the Cleveland Cavaliers visit the Dallas Mavericks on Saturday night.
The Cavaliers have lost two straight games and four of their last five, and the Mavericks are on a seven-game skid going into the game, a rematch of a 111-98 Dallas win at Cleveland on Feb. 2.
Both teams had a different look in the earlier meeting.
Harrison Barnes contributed 17 points to the Mavericks' win. He has since been traded to Sacramento for Justin Jackson.
Meanwhile, the Cavaliers played the game without star forward Kevin Love, who was sidelined following foot surgery.
Love has scored in double figures 10 times, with six double-doubles, in his 11 games since returning to the Cleveland lineup on Feb. 8. He was handcuffed by foul trouble while totaling just 10 points and eight rebounds in 24 minutes in Thursday's 120-91 loss at Orlando.
That defeat was the Cavaliers' fifth in a run of seven straight games against playoff contenders. They had beaten Orlando earlier in the stretch, as well as Toronto, with Love averaging 17 points and 12 rebounds in those games.
The Mavericks have played six in a row against playoff contenders, losing all six.
They appeared to have snapped that streak Thursday at Denver when Luka Doncic put the Mavericks up 99-98 with 5.8 seconds remaining. The star rookie also was fouled on the play.
Doncic missed the free throw, however, and Nikola Jokic converted a tough driving one-hander at the other end just before the final horn to give Denver the win.
In the end, the Mavericks were just happy to get in and out of Denver healthy after a blizzard forced them to change travel plans, flying into Colorado on the morning of the game.
"In the modern era of private planes or charters, I've never been with a team that this has happened," Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle told reporters before the game. "It was a different kind of day, for sure. It's a very unusual situation. Some people got some photos from the air of rows of cars slid out all over the place. It must have been a crazy day."
The Cavaliers, on the other hand, had no issues with the weather in Orlando. Just the Magic, despite a 23-point night from Cleveland rookie Collin Sexton.
With four straight games with 23 or more points, Sexton has a chance Saturday night to break a Cavaliers record. LeBron James is the only other rookie in Cleveland history to record four straight 20-point games. He did it twice.
Even before Sexton tied James' mark in Orlando, Cavalier owner Dan Gilbert was crowing about his young star on Twitter.
"Remember those noisemakers (and beat writers) attacking the teenager (at the time) during his first few weeks in the NBA?" he wrote Wednesday. "Couldn't be more proud of Collin. He grinds daily. Character, presence and talent. Kid is the real deal."
So, too, apparently is the Mavericks' Doncic. He's had 37 20-point games this season.
Doncic had a season-high-tying 35 points in the earlier win over Cleveland, shooting 4-for-11 on 3-pointers.
The Mavericks outscored the Cavaliers 48-12 on 3-pointers in the win.
--Field Level Media