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Cavaliers (2-6) vs. Mavericks (5-5) - Game #9

Mavs appear to be approaching inevitable transition the right way.

OPENING TIP


The Dallas Mavericks are a team in transition, a team that’s making changes while aiming to stay relevant. It’s an interesting way to do things for the franchise won a title two seasons ago -- but so far, so good. Or at least so not-too-shabby.


The Mavs know Dirk Nowitzki won’t be around forever. He certainly won’t be around for the game tonight in Cleveland, as the All-Star forward is still recovering from a preseason knee procedure.


Instead, the Mavs will feature the likes of Elton Brand, Chris Kaman, Darren Collison and especially, O.J. Mayo. None of those four were on the team last season. Brand and Kaman are pretty much veteran stopgaps (although they’ll still help you win), while Collison and Mayo are viewed as the Mavs’ Backcourt of the Future.


Mayo, in particular, has impressed. He’s gone from sixth man in Memphis to starter in Dallas, his 22 points per game proving all he needed was the ball and someone to believe in him.


The West Virgina native and former Ohio Mr. Basketball has been stellar all the way around, and while Mayo’s not Nowitzki, he’s a pretty good start when the idea is the future.


Also, you might remember that the Mavs owned the No. 17 pick in the most recent draft -- but shipped it to the Cavaliers for their first-rounder (No. 24) and two second-rounders (Nos. 33 and 34).


The Cavs got center Tyler Zeller, and they’re thrilled.


The Mavs got guard Jared Cunningham, forward Jae Crowder and center Bernard James. They, too, are thrilled.


Cunningham hasn’t received much of an opportunity, playing behind Mayo and Vince Carter. But Crowdeer has been fantastic, and James is coming along nicely.


So the Mavs have at least a few pieces in place for the future. They have a few pieces in place for today. And despite the buzz coming out of LA, Miami, New York and other popular spots, Dallas remains an interesting story -- and a team worthy of your respect.


VENUE


Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland


TIP-OFF


7:30 p.m. EST


TELEVISION


FOX Sports Ohio HD (Cavaliers Live pre-game show begins at 7 p.m.)

WUAB-TV channel 43


RADIO


Cleveland - WTAM-1100 AM (broadcast begins at 7 p.m.)


PROBABLE STARTERS


Mavericks


C – Chris Kaman; PF – Elton Brand; SF – Shawn Marion, SG – O.J. Mayo; PG – Darren Collison. Coach: Rick Carlisle.


Cavs


C – Anderson Varejao; PF – Tristan Thompson; SF – Alonzo Gee; SG – Dion Waiters; PG – Kyrie Irving. Coach: Byron Scott.


NOTABLE


Backup center Tyler Zeller (cheeckbone) is expected to play after missing the last four games. … The Mavs are coming off a 103-83 loss at Indiana on Friday. Mayo scored a team-high 19 points. … Three members of the Cavs’ Miracle of Richfield team were drafted by the expansion Mavericks in 1980: Bingo Smith, Jimmy Cleamons and current Cavs color analyst Austin Carr. Of the three, Carr was the only one to play for the Mavs. … Carr scored four points in Dallas’ first-ever game, vs. San Antonio on Oct. 11, 1980. … Tonight’s FOX Sports Ohio broadcast will be simulcast on WUAB-TV Ch. 43. … The Cavs lead the all-time series, 34-27.