After two tough home losses to Oklahoma City and Indiana, the Dallas Mavericks begin a three-game road trip in Cleveland Saturday night.
The Cavaliers, after a disastrous 2010-2011 campaign that saw them win only 19 games, have finally begun to recover from "The Decision" this year, with a much more respectable 8-13 record through 21 games.
The big difference has been rookie PG Kyrie Irving of Duke, who is averaging 18.0 points, 3.3 rebounds and 5.0 assists on 3.3 turnovers and is competing with Minnesota PG Ricky Rubio for Rookie of the Year honors.
Cleveland's other rookie, PF Tristan Thompson of Texas, has had a more difficult transition to the next level, but he's flashed the high motor and impressive athleticism at 6'9 230 that made him the No. 4 overall pick.
For Dallas, taking care of business against the Cavaliers is crucial, as they finish out their road trip with tough games at Denver and at Minnesota. The game will be a homecoming for Delonte West, who was a vital role player next to LeBron James in Cleveland for most of the last decade.
Dirk Nowitzki, meanwhile, had his best game of the season last night, scoring 30 points on 12-17 shooting, and Mavericks fans will be watching how his knee and his energy level holds up on the second night of a back-to-back that featured a late-night cross-country flight from North Texas to Ohio.
The 6:30 PM contest will be broadcast regionally on Fox Sports Southwest.