The Mavericks (22-46) make their way up north to take on the Toronto Raptors (50-17) tonight. While Dallas is hot, winning three of their last four games, the Raptors are even hotter. After last night’s win over the Pacers, Toronto has won 10 straight games and show no signs of slowing down. These two teams are destined for very different endings to their respective seasons, but each are going to come ready to play.
In their first meeting of the season in December, Dallas came away with the win: 98-93. That game was played on Dallas’ home court, but tonight’s matchup is going to be another story. At home, the Raptors are better than anyone in the league at 28-5; and it does not help that the Mavericks are just 8-24 on the road.
Toronto has one of the strongest one-two punches in the NBA with Kyle Lowry and DeMar Derozan and containing them will be key if the Mavericks want to bring a victory back to the states. Derozan leads the Raptors in scoring with 23.6 PPG; and Lowry is not far behind at 16.4 PPG. While Dallas limited Derozan to just eight points in their first meeting, Lowry managed to tally 23 points, eight rebounds and six assists. Limiting just one of the two may not be enough to steal a win in Toronto tonight.
For the Mavs, Dennis Smith Jr. will be looking to have an efficient and active night after back-and-forth performances the last two games. Against Houston, the rookie point guard shot 2-12 from the field, giving him just four points on the night. In Dallas’ win against the Knicks, Junior showed out with 17 points and included a highlight windmill dunk to put the dagger into New York. Maverick fans will be watching their prized rookie closely tonight.
In December’s game against the Raptors, another Maverick rookie, Maxi Kleber had one of his best games of his young career. The German product put up 15 points, eight rebounds and 5 blocks; but his role has diminished significantly since his breakout streak. Kleber logged 26 minutes against the Memphis Grizzlies last Saturday, but has not seen playing time like that since January. Whether or not he is given the chance to mirror his first performance against Toronto remains to be seen.
One more rookie worthy of mentioning is Stony Brook-product Jameel Warney. Warney, who signed a 10-day contract with the Mavs on March 11, has looked NBA ready in two games with the Mavs. In 20 total minutes, Warney has put up 13 points and pulled down seven rebounds, while shooting 55% from the floor. If he wants that second 10-day contract, he will have to prove himself worthy against a strong Raptors team.
Dallas is without Wesley Matthews after the announcement that he will be out for the season with a stress fracture. JJ Barea is being listed as questionable with a rib injury for tonight’s game. For Toronto, Norman Powell, who started in place of injured OG Anunoby for four games, is doubtful with an ankle injury. Anunoby was active last night against Indiana after returning from his own ankle injury but was kept out by head coach Dwayne Casey.
Tonight’s tip-off is at 6:30 p.m. and can be viewed locally on Fox Sports Southwest.
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