All eyes should NOT be on Luka Doncic tonight!
Don’t act surprised when you see Luka double-teamed every time he crosses half-court. Nick Nurse and the few remaining healthy Raptors will do their darnedest to force other Mavericks to beat them.
It’s much easier to say than actually do. Luka has a way of wiggling free, drawing fouls, or hitting maximum difficulty-level shots. But for portions of tonight’s game, Dallas will be operating in a 4-on-3 advantage against a scrambling Raptors defense.
While Toronto makes a living on the defensive end switching and recovering, it’s much more difficult when Scottie Barnes, Pascal Siakam, and Precious Achiuwa are not in uniform. So, the first quarter/half will depend on whether Spencer Dinwiddie, Reggie Bullock, and Christian Wood can capitalize.
If Toronto can weather the storm in the first half, things could get interesting after the break. Dallas ranks 22nd in net rating in the third quarter and 23rd in the second half. They’ve only won once on the road and have already lost 4 times this season when their opponent is missing at least one star. Meanwhile, Toronto has the 7th-best net rating in the fourth quarter. In their previous meeting on November 4th, the Raptors almost overcame a 15-point fourth-quarter deficit before falling short in a 111-110 loss.
Hold on a second. The Raptors had a furious late-game comeback against the Mavericks! One of the main contributors was Chris Boucher!! Tonight’s game is a weekend matinee against Dallas at Scotiabank Arena during the Christmas season!!!
Look, Kyle Lowry is not walking through the door and leading another bench unit to victory. But the Raptors are so injury-ravaged that it will surely look like a Kyle-plus-bench lineup for most of the game! That could be the unexpected jolt that’ll keep your eyes off Luka!
Where to watch:
Sportsnet One, 5:00 PM ET
Toronto Raptors — Fred VanVleet, Gary Trent Jr., OG Anunoby, Juancho Hernangomez, Thaddeus Young
Dallas Mavericks — Luka Doncic, Dorian Finney-Smith, Spencer Dinwiddie, Reggie Bullock, Dwight Powell
Toronto Raptors — Precious Achiuwa (right ankle sprain – out), Dalano Banton (left ankle sprain – out), Scottie Barnes (left knee sprain – out), Justin Champagnie (lower back soreness – out), Otto Porter Jr. (left foot, toe dislocation – out), Pascal Siakam (right adductor strain – out).
Dallas Mavericks — None (LOL)