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Sim Season - Nowitzki 3-pointer gives Mavericks Edge Over Raptors 102 - 100

In our continued look at Basketball Prospectus' simulated season, the Raps come up short thanks to a late Nowitzki 3...

So is this really D day?

I mean, we've had some "fake D-Days" I'd say in the past few months regarding labour talks, but today really could be the final go-round.

The owners are locked in regarding their demands, and the players have been left with little recourse but to continue to back-peddle on the vast majority of issues, right down to what now appears to be a 50/50 BRI split, something that at one point seemed inconceivable considering the players' association's original stance on the issue.

But has there been enough back-pedaling in the minds of the owners?

That's the million dollar question for today's arranged negotiating session, ahead of the league's 5 p.m. ET deadline for the players to accept the owners' last offer.

In addition, there's talk of the players demanding the owners address various "system issues," so will the owners "throw the players a bone" so to speak? Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated does a good job here of summing up the various issues in talks and where both sides stand.

And really, after conceding on some of the big issues like the BRI split, doesn't this just amount to saving face for the players association?

In any event, I'd say we'll know later today whether we have an NBA season to look forward to or not.

And while that's still playing out, we'll keep pretending the season is in fact underway by keeping track of Basketball Prospectus' continued "Sim Season," one that unfortunately we're a day behind in recapping thanks to a later-than usual post by Basketball Prospectus yesterday.

In any event, Monday night saw the Toronto Raptors drop a very close match to the Dallas Mavericks.

From the BP write-up:

MAVERICKS 102, RAPTORS 100: The Mavericks evened their record at 2-2, but it required quite a comeback and quite a finish to escape with the road win. Toronto jumped out to a 16-point first quarter lead behind eight points apiece from James Johnson and DeMar DeRozan. Dallas finally caught up on a Jason Kidd three-pointer early in the second half, but the Raptors recovered and built a 14-point bulge on Leandro Barbosa's trey with 9:52 to play. From there, the Mavericks reeled off 10 straight, six by Dirk Nowitzki. The Mavericks went ahead on Jason Terry's fastbreak layup with 2:21 to play and Nowitzki capped an eight-point run with another transition bucket. The Raptors responded, getting a traditional three-point play and four free throws from Andrea Bargnani. The latter pair of charity tosses came with 22 seconds to play and put the Raptors up by a point. Kidd pushed the ball up for Dallas, dished to Shawn Marion, who handed off to Nowitzki at the three-point line ... BANG! The Mavericks were up a deuce and Toronto coach Dwane Casey signaled for a timeout. On the inbounds, Bargnani popped out to receive the pass, handed to DeRozan and cut for the basket. DeRozan dumped to the slashing Bargnani who went up for a runner which was ... REJECTED! ... by Dallas' Tyson Chandler. Ballgame.

Anyone else able to picture this ending in vivid detail?

A blocked Bargnani runner?

This sim season stuff is starting to feel pretty real as the loss drops Toronto to 1 and 3 on the season so far, and with games coming up against the Clippers, Grizzlies and Thunder, all on the road, it's quite possible that we're looking at a 1 and 6 start.

In the Monday night match, Andrea Bargnani was Toronto's main gun again putting up 28 points on 9 of 22 shooting, while grabbing 10 boards as well in a very complete double-double.

In fact he outplayed the player he's often compared to, Dirk Nowitzki, as Disco Dirk had less points (24), fewer rebounds (4), and was less efficient from the field.

However it was other Mavericks like Shawn Marion and Tyson Chandler that picked up the slack and Dallas finished with five double-figure scorers.

Toronto got a very efficient 21 points from DeMar DeRozan and James Johnson finally showed some life, but hitting 2 of 10 from downtown didn't do them any favours.

As usual, our take on the outcome:

Three reasons this outcome makes sense:

1. Starting with the "on-paper analysis," Dallas, the defending NBA champs, are the more talented team, and thus it's no stretch for them to get this win. The fact that it was so close isn't even that strange as last season Toronto beat Dallas in Big D in a match of two teams missing key players, and even though they lost to the Mavs at home in their second meeting, the Raps held their own for most of the game before succumbing to Dirk Nowitzki's excellence.

2. Toronto's shooting percentages in this match are nearly identical to those of last year's matches versus Dallas. Toronto shot 48% from the field last season versus Big D and shot 49% in this simulated match. And from downtown? In Toronto's win over the Mavs on December 28 they were 2 of 10. In this simulated match the Dinos were 2 of 10 as well.

3. Rebounding. Toronto won the battle of the boards in this one 43 to 36 and last season the Raps over the two games these teams played, did a better job cleaning the glass as well. Ed Davis was particularly effective in terms of offensive rebounding and in this simulated session he had 3 rebounds of that variety.

Main reasons this outcome seems questionable:

1. Pretty hard to think Amir Johnson goes 0 for 6 on a night. He was one of Toronto's most efficient shooters last year and due to the type of shots he frequently took (put-backs, 8 footers etc,) him blanking on an evening just seems a bit of a stretch.

Oh. And I know Linas Kleiza had one big game against Dallas last year but 9 shots and 17 minutes of action? I'm begging you BP, just cut him and Reggie Evans from these simulations!

How do I feel about this outcome in the end?

Fine. I think this game was probably a bit closer than it should have been, but there's no question over a full season Toronto, despite its lack of talent, will have some surprise wins over top-tier teams, or close matches like this.

I think a 1 and 3 start seems about right and while I expect Toronto to steal one of the next three in this fake season, the simulation so far has Toronto in a pretty good position for a shot at the top pick in next year's draft.

Or fake draft.