It was posed to Raptors coach Nick Nurse as a chicken-or-the-egg scenario: does the winning come first for a basketball team and then the fun, or the other way around?
With Toronto at 5-0 and looking as though they collectively love life, the answer did not appear obvious, though Nurse tried to answer anyway. “Probably the winning, then the fun.” It’s a fair conclusion, though he went on to wonder about similar philosophical questions — motivation or success, for example — before settling back into questions about the playing rotation, Kawhi Leonard, and what the Mavericks’ Luke Doncic may have in the tank tonight for the Raptors.
Still, in thinking about it: “winning or fun?” is a tough question to answer. The Raptors have had fun so far this season, beginning even before their first game with various shenanigans during training camp — Nurse mentioned music and awards, plus there are all those photos of Fred VanVleet (out tonight) wearing a wrestling championship belt. Obviously Toronto’s core has been around each other for awhile which engenders a certain comfort level and a subsequent built-in amount of fun. Playing winning basketball definitely improves the mood too; which is to say, we have not settled this existential question. Nurse agrees. “I don’t know which one comes first,” he concluded. “I just think we go to work and we try to enjoy it.”
What else can be said? The Mavericks are currently 2-2 and in the upswing stage of their rebuild, the phase when expectations are still low and fun levels are high; any night could be the night for Dennis Smith Jr. (also out tonight), or Doncic, or, sure, Harrison Barnes to go off. Are they having fun yet in Dallas? Time will tell — though my bet is the Raptors will look to make them miserable tonight.
In any case, here’s the full Raptors-Mavericks preview from Joel Stephens this morning. Below are your updated game details. Now, let’s watch.
Where to Watch:
Sportsnet One, 7:30 pm EST
Toronto — Kyle Lowry, Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard, Pascal Siakam, Jonas Valanciunas
Dallas — Jalen Brunson, Wesley Matthews, Luka Doncic, Harrison Barnes, DeAndre Jordan
Toronto — Delon Wright (thigh, out), Fred VanVleet (toe, out), OG Anunoby (personal reasons)
Dallas — Devin Harris (hamstring, out), Dirk Nowitzki (ankle, out), Dennis Smith Jr. (ankle, out)