Things we’ve learned in the 2 games since my last pre-game report:

1. I could not have been more wrong about the Raptors being a team that doesn’t take lesser opponents lightly and pay the price for it.

2. I apparently have the ability to negatively sway the outcome of games with my overconfident predictions. Pagan sports gods be damned.

3. Nobody knows what to suspect when this Raptors team takes the court. They can seemingly beat or lose to any team in the league on any given night.

Toronto Raptors -1.5 vs. Dallas Mavericks

Fans will get to embrace the return of 3 former Raptors in Jose Calderon (uproarious round of applause), Shawn Marion (oh yeah, he played here) and Vince Carter (he who shall not be named).

Jose Calderon has been a perfect fit thus far in the lone star state. Rick Carlisle has been making a concerted effort to utilize Jose Calderon’s 3-point shooting mastery with set plays and high screens designed specifically for him. 42 games in to the season and at 235 3PA, Calderon has already almost eclipsed his previous career high of 283 3PA for an entire season. Those extra shots are going in at a 45% rate (4th best in the league for players with at least 100 attempts), as Toronto fans may bitterly remember from the Raptors December 20 overtime win when Calderon went 7 for 10 from deep.
Calderon and Dirk Nowitzki are mind bogglingly close to both putting up 50-40-90 club numbers this season, with Calderon currently at 46%FG-45%3P-89%FT and Dirk at 48%FG-39%3P-90%FT. That’s insane. The rest of the team aren’t exactly brick layers either, as the team as a whole is hovering around the 50-40-80 mark with 47%FG-37%3P-79%FT shooting splits. This Mavericks team might not be a top tier title contender, but they’ve got some historically great shooting at their disposal.

It’s a good thing for the Mavericks sake that they’ve been unconscious from the floor, because their defensive efficiency comes in at 21st in the league, giving up 107.8 points per 100 possessions. Free throw disparity has been a consistent thorn in the Mavericks side as well, as the Mavericks are taking the 4th least free throws per FGA in the league while giving up the 3rd most free throws per FGA on defense. That’s what happens when you play Monta Ellis, Jose Calderon and Dirk Nowitzki together without any kind of rim protection. Dirk is actually the best rim protector the Mavs have this year, according to, a devastating condemnation of a Mavericks frontcourt rotation that is giving up between 52 and 59% shooting to opponents at the rim. The fact that there are 9 teams worse defensively than the Mavericks is more of a credit to Carlisle’s coaching and this groups team mentality guarding the pick and roll.

The Raptors have endured a big, 2 embarrassing home loss-sized slice of reality in the last week to hopefully bring their focus back where it needs to be. The Raptors showed in both losses against the Lakers and HorBobnetcats how bad they can be when they’re checked out, and how impressive they can be when they’re locked in on defense, scoring in transition and cycling the ball for open 3s and shots at the rim. Valanciunas continues to be a force when he’s involved in the game on offense, and less enthused and probably on Casey’s bench come the 4th quarter when he isn’t. He’s 21 years old and has spent most of the last 2 years being largely ignored by his teammates after getting his standard two first quarter post touches, so I’m not going to blame the guy. But he’s got the same mismatch he exploited for 18 points and 13 rebounds in 34 minutes in the December 20 game, so it would be awfully nice to see an engaged and properly utilized Jonas in this one.

The game plan for the Raps in this one should be simple. Valanciunas and Amir Johnson will both enjoy considerable offensive advantages. Jonas with his size in the post and Johnson with Nowitzki likely wanting nothing to do with the strength and aggression that Amir hits the offensive glass with. In lineups with a Monta-Calderon backcourt, the Raptors will need to exploit DeRozan or Ross’s notable size mismatch. Dallas’ need to double team or help towards DeRozan when guarded by the smaller Mavs guards led to an impressive and uncommon 9 assists from DeMar in the last meeting.

Toronto will need to take care of the ball as well, as the crafty Calderon and slippery quick Ellis both make up for their defensive deficiencies by creating an abundance of turnovers while giving up very few of their own.

You can rest assured that a Mavericks team who plays very poorly on defense and who shoots very well on offense is going to show up to play tonight. You can also rest assured that I have absolutely no idea what Toronto team is going to show up to play tonight. This game is well within their grasp to win though, and given the matchup, very likely to be a fun one to watch. Toronto -1.5 and o/u of 203.5, I’ll take Toronto and the over in a bounce back win for the Dino’s in which, more importantly than anything else, the fans get pizza.

  • Roarque

    Big night for Dallas – there will be no overtime this trip. Mavs by 20 points.
    The bottom has yet to be found in the motivation of our youtts, aka our starting 4 + Kyle (who must be frustrated).
    Dwane needs help – there are other techniques besides tough Lithuanian love

    • DDayLewis

      Damn, if only I predicted this. That would have balanced out the bad karma and got the Raptors a win!

      • Roarque

        Cute. I truly hope they do win.

  • jjdynomite

    Monta gives up few turnovers?!?! Other than that, nice write-up.

  • Skip2MyLou

    Raptors are 1-3 since vandalizing the Celtics roster with “LOL!”

    • DDayLewis

      Time to vandalize the Raptors roster with “LOL”. Karmic balance and all

  • Quest

    get Demar and Jonas going in the post early. that is the key to winning, as this will open up the 3 for klow and ross as well as the amir pick n rolls. hopefully the bench holds the fort and we get psycho t back. go raps!

  • TrueFan

    They can win or lose to any team in the NBA, JUST like ANY other team in the NBA, even the high ranking teams can. Last I checked, they’re all professional teams/players, so that statement is pointless. Jus sayin.

    • Steve Lam

      i think its safe to say that while thats technically true, everyone sort of knows whats going to happen in say, a OKC vs Bucks matchup. A lot of crazy stuff has to happen for a Bucks win. The same can’t be said of a Raptors vs ____ game. Theres no real confidence in our teams performance in any consistent way.

  • Andre

    But… Montaellishaveitall ? does that mean the raptors have no chance?

  • HST

    My prediction: Honeymoons over, Raps lose another heartbreaker at home.

  • asifyouknow

    They do need to win today…..DeMar has to have a great game and JV needs to stop somebody!
    Give them hell boys!
    Just want to proof the gloom and doom fans wrong!!!! lol
    Unfortunately for my bro Vasquez he will be back to 12 minutes a night because Salmons is back and Casey has no confidence on Vaz unless he is force to…lol
    Vasquez appears healthy now, he looks like the PG I’ve seen for years but he is not Casey’s type of PG so I hope he has shown enough the last few games to get Knicks or Lakers interested.
    He would do well with those coaches, a great fit specially in LA where defense is not a priority.
    Vaz is just too slow for Casey high power defense…Love the Raptors fun game, but I just want Vaz to get minimum 20 minutes a night that will keep his game sharp, from the rumors I hear Casey keeps him pretty much handcuffs, you know no “pretty game”
    As you guys know i’m not a big Casey fan..
    Go Raptors !!!!

  • AB4EYE

    Somehow Hansbough is out for the 11th time with an ankle injury despite playing with all kinds of major issues in his career racking up around 250 consecutive games played including the playoffs before missing just 3 games on the shoulder issue that should been a month long injury.

    Media expected him to play 9 games ago and he’s practicing so seems like something strange is going on even if its as simple as simple and Coach keeping his fellow UK both in the rotation.

    • caccia

      As I suggested before, Tyler could be on the trading block, and management has to make sure he is 100% before the deal goes down. Otherwise, if it was a grade 2 sprain, that can take weeks or even months to heal, because it means actual rupturing of some of the tendons in the ankle. Today marks three weeks. It is good to hear he is moving well, but that does not necessarily mean that the ankle is entirely stable.

      • caccia

        Sorry, that should have been tear of the ankle ligaments, whether partial or not.

    • ckh26

      agreed. enough the day to day lower body injury stuff

  • AB4EYE

    Dallas has a losing record against teams .500 or better and is just .500 on the road and can’t rebound or play defense. But the Lakers were worse in all of those and managed to knock us off at home,

    They have an issue with fishing and blow a lot of big leads as we came back from 19 on them and they blew a 24 point lead down to a 2 point game before holding on last time out in Cleveland. The positive thing with us we finish strong as a young team so it will come down to the 4th and if the Mavs name value players have anything left in the tank.

    • AB4EYE

      Nailed it!