Game 2 of the current road trip has our Dallas Mavericks across the Canadian border. The Mavericks will visit the struggling Toronto Raptors who have lost 12 of their last 13 games. Our Mavs are coming off a tough 117-115 double overtime loss in to the Boston Celtics.
In their previous meeting this season, the Mavericks topped the Raptors in Dallas 109-104. Andrea Bargnani entrenched in an abysmal season had 25 points and 9 rebounds in the November contest. O.J. Mayo scored 22 points to pace the Mavs to victory.
The game in Boston was full with a cluster of Mavericks turnovers, in fact a season high of 28. One could argue that had they protected the ball better the outcome would have been different. Sure that’s very true, but debatable. The Celtics didn’t play their best brand of ball either. In the end, after two extra sessions the home team did just enough to squeak out the victory.
Mayo and Darren Collison led the Mavs in scoring with 24 and 20 respectfully, but it was their combined 16 giveaways that leave everyone scratching their heads. You have to expect the 25-year-old backcourt pairing to have their share of mistakes, but 16 turnovers are above the league average – for TEAMS! Time will help as they learn and experience continues to progress.
The challenge tonight is to work on the necessary improvements to build on success. The Raptors have three more losses than the Washington Wizards. They aren’t a good basketball team. However, this means absolutely nothing in the NBA. A short while ago the defending champion Miami Heat fell to lowly Wizards. Dallas need to win the key fundamentals in this one and winning shouldn’t be an issue.
Against inferior opponents you want to start and end quarters strong. Winning the rebounding battle provides more offensive opportunities and limits opponent second chances. Protecting the basketball goes in tune with crisper ball movement and execution, meaning a higher success rate on offense. It would also be wise to attack early and often, taking advantage of points at the free throw line.
Dwane Casey and his Raptors have taken a turn for the worst defensively after improving last season. Couple that with the fact that Dallas and Toronto are in the bottom five in points against. Neither team defends the 3-point shot particularly well, but the Raptors are worse and the Mavericks could take advantage since they rank 8th in 3PT made and 5th in 3PT%.
The injuries have piled up for the Raptors as starting point guard Kyle Lowry (tricep) will miss this game as he did in the first meeting. Bargnani is out and will likely miss three weeks with an elbow injury sustained in Portland. Landry Fields (elbow) also will be a no-go in tonight’s game. Linus Kleiza (knee) expects to play after going through shootaround today.
Dallas rookie Jae Crowder felt under the weather Wednesday night in Boston and didn’t play. His availability is questionable tonight. Shawn Marion looked great returning from his groin injury (16 pts, 11 rebs and 7 ast in BOS).
Just for fun I’ll leave you with two of my favorite Mavs/Raptors moments from years past:
1) Dirk hits game winner on February 25, 2006
2) Dirk goes off with FOUR 3-pointers in 101 seconds
No Dirk though in this one, but he is now shooting jumpshots without a time table for his return.
The Mavs and Raptors start at 6:00 p.m. CT and airs on FSSW and TSN2.
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