NBA schedule 2014: Mavericks need win against Thunder

Oklahoma City will visit Dirk Nowitzki and the Mavericks on Tuesday.

Tuesday's NBA schedule is a light one, and it feels a little bit like a Thursday with a TNT double-header. Here's what's on the menu:

Main course: Dallas Mavericks vs. Oklahoma City Thunder

8 p.m. ET, TNT

This is far and away the most compelling matchup of the evening, with Dallas desperately needing a win against a great Thunder team. This could also be a No. 2 vs. No. 7 Western Conference playoff preview. The Mavs are tied with the Phoenix Suns for the eighth-best record in the conference, but and the Memphis Grizzlies are half a game ahead of both of them. Dallas lost by three points to the Brooklyn Nets on Sunday by one point in overtime to the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday, both in overtime. Those could come back to haunt them, but a victory against OKC would help. Dirk Nowitzki was held to 10 points on 2-for-12 shooting against Brooklyn.

Mavs Moneyball

These teams met nine days ago in Oklahoma City and the Mavericks won by 23. The Thunder were without Russell Westbrook, though, and he should be in the lineup this time. Westbrook banged knees with Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry on Friday, and was held out of last night's 21-point victory over the Denver Nuggets because Oklahoma City has him on a no-back-to-back-games plan.

Appetizer: Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Toronto Raptors

7 p.m. ET

The Cavaliers aren't exactly appointment viewing without Kyrie Irving, but the Raptors have been making things interesting lately. In the last week, they've split two games against the Atlanta Hawks, both coming down to the final minutes and one going to overtime. Toronto also had fourth-quarter rally against the New Orleans Pelicans and suffered a heartbreaking, double-overtime loss to Oklahoma City at the hands of Kevin Durant.

Dessert: Los Angeles Lakers vs. New York Knicks

10:30 p.m. ET, TNT

Aaaand preseason television scheduling strikes again! Both of these teams have been on national TV way, way more often than their records justify. At least the Knicks are looking like a competent basketball team lately. They'd won eight in a row before losing to the Cavs on Sunday, and they still have a shot at sneaking into the playoffs.

Other game:

Orlando Magic vs. Portland Trail Blazers, 7 p.m. ET

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