DALLAS MAVERICKS (49-23) @ CLEVELAND CAVALIERS (37-34)
When: Sunday, April 3, 2005
Time: 12:30 pm PT, 3:30 pm ET
Where: Gund Arena
Avery Johnson / Brendan Malone
Jason Terry / Eric Snow
Michael Finley / Ira Newble
Josh Howard / LeBron James
Dirk Nowitzki / Drew Gooden
Shawn Bradley / Zydrunas Ilgauskas
Keith Van Horn / Anderson Varejão
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Dirk Nowitzki / LeBron James
Dallas: Didier Ilunga-Mbenga, Pavel Podkolzin, Tariq Abdul-Wahad
Cleveland: Luke Jackson, Dajuan Wagner, Scott Williams
* Cleveland needs to show the same effort they showed in the 4th quarter against the Kings the entire way against the Mavericks. Malone needs to pay close attention to who is hustling, fighting and scrapping and give minutes accordingly. For example, if Sasha is playing well, he should remain in the game and continue to see minutes.
* The Mavs are going to key in on James, so help better arrive. Gooden needs to establish himself early, avoid making mistakes that mentally rattle him and try not to get frustrated against Nowitzki.
* The Cavaliers need to keep a better eye on Finley this time. Cleveland must fight through screens and pick up their screen-and-roll defense. If the defender cannot make it through, the off-man must step up to show (especially if Dallas is making their shots).
* Cleveland must play well enough to let the crowd get in the game early. If Dallas explodes early in the 1st quarter, the crowd will be hush and the homecourt advantage will be lost. If that happens, this game might as well take place in a neutral gym because the energy won’t be there.
Final Thought: This is a very trying time for the team and organization. Winning is the only thing that can lift the heavy hearts, sunken heads and bruised egos of the team. To avoid sliding too much, the Cavs must win this game.