Game Preview: Mavericks Look to Bounce Back Against Raptors

Jalen Brunson

Getty Jalen Brunson defends Fred VanVleet of the Toronto Raptors

The start of the 2021-22 season did not go how the Dallas Mavericks had planned. In their opening game, they suffered a 26-point loss to the Atlanta Hawks.

Projected to be one of the better teams in the NBA this season, the Mavericks will need to put that game behind them and move forward to their next opponent.

On Saturday evening, Dallas will continue their road trip with a game in Toronto against the Raptors. At 7:30PM ET, these two teams will match up at Scotiabank Arena on ESPN2.

While the Raptors aren’t projected to be a top team this season, they’re coming off of a 32-point win over the Boston Celtics on Friday night and are playing with a ton of confidence.

The Mavericks will only have one more opportunity to play the Raptors this season outside of this game, when they host them in Dallas in January.

How will the Mavs respond after their blowout loss earlier this week to start the season?

Starting with Defense

The Mavericks came into the season with an extra emphasis on defense. However, in their first game of the season, it didn’t show. Dallas allowed Atlanta to score 113 points while shooting 42.9% from deep and 47.9% from the floor overall.

Reggie Bullock

GettyReggie Bullock catches his breath between plays against the Wizards.

Those numbers simply won’t get it done against anyone in this league. The best teams in the NBA are able be effective on both ends of the floor, especially on defense.

In many cases, offense can be sparked from defense. If the Mavericks are able to set the tone on that end of the floor, it allows them to build momentum and often times generate more fast break points. Whether the defense produces steals and blocks, or just forces the opposing team into difficult shots, the offense should naturally feed off of that success.

Against the Raptors on Saturday, the whole game could come down to the defensive side of the ball.

Exploiting Weaknesses

The Raptors are 1-1 on the season, with a win over the Celtics and a loss to the Wizards. While that is a small sample size of games, there are certainly some things that have arisen as weaknesses for this team.

For starters, Toronto plays an extremely young lineup. On Friday night against Boston, their starting lineup included a 20-year-old, two 22-year-olds, a 24-year old and a 27-year old. While all five of these starters are extremely talented, they don’t have as much experience as some of the other teams around the league.

Until the Raptors get Pascal Siakam back, they won’t be at full strength, meaning the Mavs are getting them at a good time in the season.

Another weakness of Toronto is their efficiency from the floor. Through two games, they’ve shot just 36.5% from the field, which is 29th in the NBA. The only team with a worse percentage than the Raptors is the Mavericks (33.3%).

This poor shooting for Toronto starts with their 3-point efficiency, where they’ve converted on only 24.6% of 34.5 attempts per contest.

One thing the Raptors are not weak at is attacking the glass. They’re the second-best rebounding team in the NBA this season with 57.0 per game.

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