So it doesn’t sound like we’ll have Kyle Lowry in action tonight in Dallas against the Mavericks. This is obviously a huge loss for the team, mentally and on the floor.
Luckily, the Mavericks are without three of their top players as well, so the Raptors have a good chance to walk out of Big D with a win. The Mavs will be missing all-world scorer Dirk Nowitzki, utility-man and top rebounder Shawn Marion (knee), and big-man Elton Brand, who is off to tend to the birth of his child (congrats, bro…you and Sam can start a Daddy Day Care).
As it is, with full rosters this is a completely different game for both teams, but in their current injured incarnations, the Raptors appear to have an edge. Thankfully, the Thunder ended last night’s game nice and early, so no Raptor played more than 32 minutes and everyone should be plenty fresh for this evening (8:30 p.m., TSN).
Guard: Jose Calderon (starter), John Lucas and Kyle Lowry (injured) vs. Darren Collison, Jared Cunningham and Rodrigue Beaubois (questionable)
While Calderon and Lucas are a better tandem than Collison and Cunningham, Collison is the best point guard in this contest and should have little trouble scoring on Calderon. Calderon’s best asset is how he gets others involved, so perhaps him entering the starting lineup can get Bargnani going early, a necessity with Lowry out. Lucas has had a pair of rough games in a row, but tonight will be his chance to show that his preseason performance wasn’t a mirage and he can provide bench scoring in games that matter. Here’s hoping.
Wings: DeMar DeRozan (starter), Landry Fields (start), Alan Anderson and Terrence Ross vs. O.J. Mayo (starter), Jae Crowder (starter), Vince Carter and Dominique Jones
I’ll probably get ripped for calling this even, but DeRozan has been too inconsistent and Mayo too hot to start the season to decisively say that DeRozan is the better player right now. Tom Liston favorite Jae Crowder has looked good in the early goings, and Dominique Jones is dangerous as a combo guard off the bench as well. As for Vince, well…FUVC, and all that. DeRozan really needs to assert himself and attack Mayo, who isn’t always an engaged defender. And Fields, well..at some point some of those open jumpers and floaters in the lane are going to drop. I hope.
Bigs: Andrea Bargnani (starter), Jonas Valanciunas (starter), Ed Davis and Amir Johnson vs. Chris Kaman (starter), Brendan Wright (starter), Troy Murphy and Bernard James
This should be a huge edge for the Raps, as the Mavs do not run deep in the paint at all. Kaman is big and skilled offensively, and Wright has developed into a nice player offensively with some shot-blocking ability, but playing those two a combined 70 minutes, as the Mavs will likely have to do tonight, it asking for trouble. Murphy, despite having a great last name, is a bit washed up, and we haven’t seen enough of James to really know much yet. Bargnani will be key, as most could have figured out with Lowry injured, as he’s the biggest offensive threat for the good guys. Jonas faces yet another hulking center, but one who he should be able to score on using his quickness. And as is the case most nights, the bench bigs are a huge edge for the Raptors.
Mayo is the kind of guy who can generally pop off against the Raptors, especially without Lowry to share some of the defensive duties. Fields will probably draw that match-up more so than DeRozan, since Jae Crowder is less of a threat offensively. This is a game that Andrea should and better take over – he’s been borderline terrible to start the season, and with Lowry down he’s back to being Option Number One. No excuses tonight for Bargs, who needs a 25-8 kind of game. The Raptors should have a significant edge on the glass, but they’ll need to keep Dallas, a team who shoots a miniscule amount of free throws, off the line to avoid giving the advantage right back – the Raptors have the second highest foul rate in the NBA right now.
The Line: Dallas -6.5
My Pick: Raptors by 7
O-Rating: Dallas 114.2 (3rd), Toronto 100.6 (22nd)
D-Rating: Toronto 103.2 (13th), Dallas 103.9 (15th)
Pace: Dallas 94.8 (9th), Toronto 94.7 (10th)