In the best performance we’ve seen all year, the Raptors finally lived up to their potential in a blowout win over the Mavs. It’s sometimes frustrating when the Raptors lose to the likes of the Bobcats/Pacers, then beat the Spurs/Mavs, because you wonder why they couldn’t beat both. It speaks to a team that seems to be a player, or adjustment, or something, away from really putting it together, and making a serious run. What it also does is frustrate many of us because this team isn’t living up to its potential, perceived or otherwise. For now, we are happy because the win in New York was solidified with an even bigger win at home to the Mavs.
I actually had zero expectations for this game aside from trying to keep it as close as possible, and not roll over. The first quarter was just that. The Raptors shot a horrible 36% from the field, but they held the Mavs to 43.5% led by a great defensive effort by DeRozan. The kid really stepped up and challenged Howard to do something, and Howard didn’t. DeMar stayed with him off of screens, contesting jumpers and taking away the lane. The two times Howard shook free, Bosh was there at the rim to block him, and Turkoglu rotated over to steal the ball from him. This defensive tone that DeRozan set early stayed through the whole game, with tight rotations and great help on the weak side.
The second quarter saw Calderon, Wright and Johnson bring a lot of energy off the bench. We forget how effective Jose is as a backup, it’s like he’s a totally different person. The last couple games, he has brought exactly what was missing from the starting unit. He penetrated, found shooters, grabbed a rebound, played tough defense (2 steals) and hit the shots he needed to. All his shots were timely. I’m gushing I know, but in 12min, he had 9pts 6ast 2stls on 4-6 shooting. I alluded to Jason Terry being the perfect 6th man in the league, but if Calderon keeps up this kind of play, he is right up there.
The second quarter spark also saw Turkoglu wake up and contribute with 5pts 4ast in the frame. All said and done, the Raptors took the lead in the 2nd quarter by simply sharing the ball, and making that extra pass that resulted in a quality shot. On 15 made field goals (13 were great looks from the perimeter), 11 were assisted. That’s ridiculous. Antoine Wright even went 2-3, of which all three shots didn’t make me want to bang my head against the wall. On the defensive end, the Raptors kept the Mavs scoreless for 3 minutes during an early quarter 6-0 that gave them the lead that they never gave up for the rest of the game.
Bargnani stepped up his defense on Nowitzki in the second quarter. Contesting, blocking out, and challenging Dirk on every possession. All said and done, Dirk was limited to 4pts on 2-4 shooting in the 2nd. This was huge in keeping the Mavs in check since Terry dropped 10 in the quarter, on 5-7 shooting – dude hit everything, it was very frustrating because they were tough shots. All said and done, the Raptors took a 54-41 lead into the half.
The Raptors offense started the 2nd half stagnant. The ball wasn’t being moved around, bad jumpers were being forced, and the Mavs started with a 6-0 run to cut the lead to 8. Bosh and Bargnani went to work, running the high-low post, assisting on each others buckets – Colangelo’s wet dream. DeRozan hit back-to-back jumpers that pushed the lead back up to 12. The Raptors had another defensive stand that spurred a 7-0 run, allowing 2 contested shots that had no chance in falling. Had Terry not hit a ridiculously deep three towards the end of the quarter, the Raps would have entered the 4th up 19.
Amir blocked Marion at the rim to start the 4th. The Raptors held the Mavs scoreless for 3 minutes, and that was the game. The Raptors shot the ball better from the floor, moved the ball around better, defended better, protected better, got to the line and converted more, it was a masterful display.
This is the most spread out player impact chart I’ve seen this season. Bosh, Bargnani, Turkoglu and Amir Johnson stand out, but when you consider what Jack and Calderon did as a duo, it was a five-headed monster that stepped up and snatched this from the Mavs. I have to say, I’m a proud Raptor fan today, awesome way to start the week.