The Toronto Raptors look to maintain a perfect record as they head to Dallas to begin a four game road trip in which they will suit up against tougher competition than they’ve faced thus far in the season. Though this is a drastically different Dallas Mavericks team than in years past, they still have quite a few talented vets, some of whom have been known to give the Raptors fits in the past.
All things considered, this game should be a good test for the Dinos as well as another opportunity to tighten up their perimeter defence. We are now one week into the season and only 4 undefeated teams remain, let’s see if the Raptors survive to see another day on that list.
Cage’s Keys to the Game
Guard The Perimeter
Whether it be Wesley Matthews in transition or Dirk Nowitzki in a pick-and-pop expect the Mavericks to let it fly from beyond the arc. While they aren’t particularly deep this year they do typically find a way to have four shooters on the floor at all times. Expect Dwane Casey to deploy small-ball lineups for extended stretches to match the three guard line-ups Rick Carlisle has been using extensively in their first three games. The Mavericks are third in the NBA in attempted three pointers (29.7 per game) thus far so they aren’t afraid to let it fly from behind the arc.
Establish Jonas Early
The Dallas Mavericks don’t have anybody that can effectively protect the rim or guard the post so Jonas Valanciunas likely represents Toronto’s biggest advantage. If they are able to get him going early in the game they may be able to force Dallas’ hand and make them adjust their line-ups in order to meet Toronto’s style of play. Zaza Pachulia and ex-Raptor Charlie Villanueva share primary centre duties so Jonas should have a field day.
Clean the Glass
The Raptors are second only to the Thunder in rebounding differential averaging an impressive 12.7 more rebounds per game than their opponents across three games. Seeing as the Mavericks are one of only six teams that have gathered more rebounds than them this season this should be an area of focus for the Northerners. By controlling the glass Toronto will be able to effectively limit the number of second chance opportunities Dallas will have. For a team that relies so heavily on the outside shot it’s imperative that you give them only one crack at it per possession.
This game’s X-Factor is Jonas Valanciunas. He will need to impose his will in the paint and consistently put pressure on Dallas’ interior defence which in turn free up the Raptors’ perimeter players to create even more scoring opportunities. Toronto also needs him to continue to rebound at a high clip in order for them to limit second chance scoring opportunities against this Mavericks team.