Dallas Mavericks visit Raptors: Preview & 3 keys to victory


Kyle Lowry scored 27 points in the first encounter between the Toronto Raptors and Dallas Mavericks to improve to an early 4-0. Injuries and slow starts have the plagued the Raptors this season while Dallas looks for redemption.

Head Coach Dwane Casey has tried everything to improve his team’s first quarter performances. He has called out his team in the media (more so recently) and has toyed with the starting line-up while not hesitating to make quick pulls early in the game. You just never know which team you will get after the opening tip.

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The Dallas Mavericks will look to jump on the team early. As slow as the Raptors have been in opening quarters, opposing coaches are not taking it for granted. Rick Carlisle gave a lot of praise to the Raptors stating, “Pound for pound, I don’t know of another team in the NBA that plays harder than (the Raptors) on a consistent basis.” It seems that Casey is expending a lot of energy on his own team’s nuances rather than the opposing one these days.

The Dallas Mavericks sport a much different and unpredictable line-up these days featuring the resurgent Deron Williams and Raymond Felton back-court, usual shooting guard Wesley Matthews at the 3-spot, the usually lethal Dirk Nowitzki, and a surprisingly effect Zaza Pachulia at center. It’s safe to say this team has a very different look than the previous meeting.

3 keys to victory

Start with urgency

The Raptors have lost their last 10 games trailing after the first quarter. Clearly they can’t keep coming back from these deficits. With so much talk of our starting burning out early in the season, there needs to be some sort of jolt to begin these games.

Win the backcourt battle handily

Two forgotten point guards in Deron Williams and Raymond Felton are having comeback seasons, but that doesn’t mean they should over-match DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry. DeRozan has been on fire in the last few weeks while Lowry is beginning to slow from his hot start. This match-up is perfect for them to both light up a weaker back-court in a big way.

Contain the shooters

The Mavericks sport the best shooting big of all time, two wing players coming off injuries who have been prolific from 3 in the past (Chandler Parsons and Wesley Matthews), and supplementary shooters in JJ Barea and Charlie Villanueva. This team is built with space from a championship level coach with players who know their role and their spots. It could be a long night for the Raptors if the Mavericks’ veterans start clicking.

Dec 18, 2015; Dallas, TX, USA; Dallas Mavericks forward Chandler Parsons (25) dribbles as Memphis Grizzlies forward James Ennis (8) defends during the first half at American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Key players of the game

DAL: Chandler Parsons; he shoots over 50% in wins and under 40% in losses. He is a piece of the cog while recovering from injury and shouldn’t be let off a short leash.

TOR: Terrence Ross; after 4 strong shooting performances, his hot hand better be fed immediately to see if it’s still going. If not… well, you know how it goes.

Next: 3 ways to minimize the pressure on the Raptors back-court


When the Raptors come out weak one game, they usually come out better the next, and the pattern continues. So we should see a strong first quarter following that logic, let’s just hope for a good full 48 minutes.