After the recent 3-game losing streak, Toronto thought they had gotten things under control. Yes, the schedule was a little easier. They have won consecutive games against Brooklyn, Cleveland, Detroit, and Washington. But the injury bug hit again. Siakam, Gasol, and Powell are all out indefinitely. And just before a brutal 4-game stretch.
Toronto’s next four games: vs Dallas, at Indiana, vs Boston, at Boston. They share a combined win percentage of 70 percent. None of the teams have hit double digit losses for the season. The Raptors had already faced the Mavericks, a 110-102 loss, at the American Airlines Arena in November. Indiana started the season slow but have played exceptional since thanks to Malcolm Brogdon. Boston took down Toronto in an early season battle.
Today they play the Mavericks, who themselves have been hit with a significant injury. Luka Doncic has been playing spectacular all season, averaging nearly a 30-point triple double, but went down early in a loss against the Heat. Dallas has managed to stay afloat since he went down, going 2-2. Toronto hope to do the same. Here are the details for today’s game.
Where to Watch:
SportsNet One, 3:30 PM EST
Toronto – Fred VanVleet, Kyle Lowry, Patrick McCaw, OG Anunoby, Serge Ibaka
Dallas – Jalen Brunson, Tim Hardaway Jr., Dorian Finney-Smith, Kristaps Porzingis, Dwight Powell
Toronto – Pascal Siakam (groin – OUT), Marc Gasol (hamstring – OUT), Norman Powell (shoulder – OUT), Matt Thomas (finger – OUT), Stanley Johnson (groin – OUT)
Dallas – Luka Doncic (ankle – OUT), Seth Curry (back – probable), Delon Wright (finger – probable)
Lost in all the game talk is Delon Wright’s return to Toronto. Wright spent four seasons with Toronto and showed slow but steady improvement across the board. He was shipped off to Memphis alongside Jonas Valanciunas and C.J. Miles in the Marc Gasol trade at the deadline last season. It’s Wright’s first game back against his former team and I’m sure he’s thinking about revenge.
Wright’s impending free agency made it the easy choice for Raptors management to send him out west. He signed a 3-year deal with Dallas over the summer and looks like a good fit with the Mavericks. There was a time when Delon Wright and Fred VanVleet were jockeying for the position as Kyle Lowry’s eventual replacement (surprisingly, Lowry is aging like a fine wine) but tonight is the first time they’ll face off as opponents.
Next Man Up: The Sequel
When Kyle Lowry and Serge Ibaka both went down with injuries against the Pelicans and Patrick McCaw dealing with an injury as well, Nick Nurse had no choice. Toronto played well with wins against the Lakers and Trailblazers thanks to Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Chris Boucher, and Terrence Davis. The bench was stepping up, but with Kyle Lowry, Patrick McCaw, and Serge Ibaka all returning, there was not enough minutes to go around.
Now Pascal Siakam, Norman Powell, and Marc Gasol all out indefinitely, the bench must step up again. We saw minutes from Malcolm Miller, Patrick McCaw was moved into the starting lineup, Chris Boucher got more opportunity, and Terence Davis (the only Raptor not to miss a game this season) played well against the Wizards. Injuries seem to be hitting at the worst time this season, first on the brutal west coast road trip, and now right before two crucial games against a divisional rival in the Boston Celtics – including the Christmas game we were all excited about. Let’s see if they can tread water until the starters are back.
Porzinigis’ Potential Pushing the Mavericks
Kristaps Porzingis’ first season with Dallas started off slow, but after 27 games, things are starting to improve. Since Luka Doncic went down with an ankle injury early in the first quarter against the Miami Heat, Porzingis has been averaging 23.3 points (up from 17.6 on the season) and 14.3 rebounds. He’s posted four straight games with double digit rebounds including 18 against the size of Philadelphia. Dallas has gone 2-2 with big wins coming on the road against Milwaukee (snapping their 18-game win streak) and Philadelphia (their first home loss of the season). Their two losses came to Miami and Boston, two very good teams.
Assuming Porzingis’ recent play stays consistent over the season, where do we see this Dallas team? They won convincingly against the Lakers in Los Angeles (Toronto did too, but we’re the champs) and followed that up with impressive road wins in Milwaukee and Philadelphia. The idea that Dallas is a one-man show is slowly dying. The real question is: are they a contender?