Time to see some of that Luka-magic up close and personal.
The Toronto Raptors are on a winning streak for the first time this season following back-to-back wins vs. the Hornets. The Mavericks coming off of a loss to the Chicago Bulls wherein Luka Doncic put up 36-16-15. Now sitting at the same 6-6 record the Hornets possessed before playing the Raptors, Kyle Lowry & co. look to inch closer to .500 themselves.
The two games played between these teams last year offered vastly different flows of play. One game sans Doncic that featured a 30-point comeback win for the Raptors, the other featuring Doncic, who picked them apart as they tried to blitz him the same way they did Kawhi Leonard and Damian Lillard – but, there’s rarely a blitz that phases Doncic.
Now, a significantly worse team defensively, the Raptors will attempt to contain Doncic & Porzingis on the second night of a back-to-back and without a great deal of their supporting cast. Maxi Kleber, Dorian Finney-Smith, Josh Richardson, and Dwight Powell are all out for COVID-protocol. If you’re saying to yourself: “Wow, that’s a lot of important players.” It’s because it is. That’s half of their regular rotation gone. And it’s worth noting that I liked Wes Iwundu and Tyrell Terry, but heavy minutes for those guys isn’t a good situation for the Mavericks.
With Kleber, and Finney-Smith out this game is primed for Siakam to dominate. Porzingis is daunting if he’s at the rim, but as it currently stands there isn’t a single player on the Mavericks roster who can hang with Siakam in the combination of the post and the open floor. James Johnson could see a stretch of play on him, but we’ll see. A return to form would be welcome considering the Hornets made it their goal to throw him off rhythm.
Expect Baynes to receive another short stint to start this game off. Willie Cauley-Stein has started to receive some shine as the Mavs new ‘5’ and Baynes should be able to deter some of his rim-runs. Defensively, I might hazard a guess to say that Boucher isn’t ideal to cover the pick n’ roll if it’s Doncic coming downhill – he’s one of the heaviest players who uses the playtype and his balance allows him to bump any and everybody off of his line to the bucket. We could see foul trouble. A strong Baynes performance could go a long way.
Jalen Brunson appears to be back in the fold, but the Raptors have the edge in guard play – well, maybe, I don’t know what anyone considers Doncic’s position to be at any given time – outside of Doncic, the Mavericks should have a lot of trouble breaking down the Raptors point of attack defense. They shouldn’t be scared to help on drives in this one. The Mavericks only have 3 players who clear 33-percent from downtown and 2 of them won’t be playing. Seal off the rim if you can.
At the very least, we’ll all get to watch a transcendent young player.
Tipoff: 7:30pm EST | TV: TSN | TSN1050. Raptors are favored by 4 points.
Patrick McCaw is out. Alex Len is out.
PG: Kyle Lowry, Malachi Flynn
SG: Fred VanVleet, Norman Powell, Terence Davis, Matt Thomas, Jalen Harris
SF: OG Anunoby, Stanley Johnson, DeAndre Bembry, Paul Watson
PF: Pascal Siakam, Yuta Watanabe
C: Aron Baynes, Chris Boucher
Maxi Kleber, Dorian Finney-Smith, Josh Richardson, and Dwight Powell are all likely out for COVID-protocol. Jalen Brunson is probable, and Tim Hardaway Jr. is questionable.
PG: Luka Doncic, Trey Burke
SG: Jalen Brunson, Josh Green, Tyrell Terry
SF: Tim Hardaway Jr., Wes Iwundu, Tyler Bey
PF: Kristaps Porzingis, James Johnson
C: Willie Cauley-Stein, Boban Marjanovic
Enjoy the game, and have a blessed day.