New-look Mavericks regroup against Cavaliers
On any normal day, news that five-time All-Star Kevin Love was on the verge of returning to action after missing 48 games, would be pretty big news.
But Thursday's blockbuster trade between Dallas and New York that sent shockwaves across the NBA landscape made the Love news look like small potatoes.
Dallas traded point guard Dennis Smith Jr., center DeAndre Jordan, guard Wesley Matthews and two first-round picks for forward Kristaps Porzingis and guards Tim Hardaway Jr., Courtney Lee and Trey Burke.
A few hours later, the short-handed Mavericks lost to Detroit, 93-89. A different looking Dallas team heads to Cleveland to face the Cavs, who have won a season-high two games in a row.
"I think if you have a chance to add a franchise-caliber player like Porzingis, you just got to go for it," the ageless Dirk Nowitzki said. "He's got a franchise-type player game."
In 186 career games, Porzingis has averaged 17.8 points, 7.1 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per game. He hasn't played since tearing an ACL on Feb 6, 2018. The 23-year-old was not expected to play this year and there is no timetable for his return.
Despite the roster turnover, the Mavericks still have rookie Luka Doncic, Harrison Barnes and Nowitzki. Doncic leads the team in nearly every offensive category, including scoring (20.4) and rebounding (6.9). Barnes is second in scoring at 17.7 points per game and Nowitzki provides leadership the young Mavs desperately need.
Hardaway comes to the Mavericks averaging 19.1 points per game. Lee can defend and is consistent from beyond the arc, he has shot better than 37 percent from 3-point range each season since 2010. And Burke has averaged more than 20 points per 36 minutes off the bench the past two seasons.
While the Mavs will be adjusting to losing three starters, the Cavs have been dealing with different starting lineups all season. But now, Love might return.
"I think Saturday would be pushing it," Cavs head coach Larry Drew told the Cleveland Plain Dealer, although he didn't totally rule out Love seeing action.
"He actually did pretty well," Drew said after Love participated in 5-on-5s on Thursday. "He moved around pretty well. Got a little winded, which is expected. The first time he has really been in a contact situation where we went up and down and there was actual contact."
During the time Love has been out, Cleveland has recorded the league's second-worst record and could be sellers as the Feb. 7 trade deadline approaches. Players like Rodney Hood and Alec Burks could be on the move.
One player most likely to be wearing the Wine & Gold is Cedi Osman, the second-year player who was named a Rising Star as one of the best young players in the world.
Over the last six games, Osman has reached double figures five times. He's averaging 20.3 points on 54.3 percent from the field and 44.7 percent from 3-point range to go with 4.7 rebounds and 3.2 assists.
"Cedi is playing incredible, looking to attack first and set up the shot second," teammate Larry Nance Jr. told the Plain Dealer. "It's a pretty special thing. Ten players, to be one of the best 10 international young players in the league, that's nothing to scoff at. We're all proud of him and he deserves it, especially with his play of recent."
--Field Level Media
Updated February 1, 2019