Matchup: Toronto Raptors vs. Dallas Mavericks
Records: Raptors (8-3), Mavericks (6-5)
Where to Watch
Date: Nov. 16
Time: 8:30 p.m. ET
Location: American Airlines Center, Dallas, TX
On Saturday, the Raptors face one of the best young talents in the NBA.
Last season's Rookie of the Year, Luka Doncic has gotten the 2019-20 season off to a sensational start. He's averaging a near triple-double through 11 games with 28.7 points, 10.3 rebounds and 9.3 assists. He already has a league-high five triple-doubles, his latest coming in the team's loss to the New York Knicks.
With his play, Doncic has worked his way into the early MVP discussion.
In addition to Doncic, the Mavericks are led by one-time All-Star Kristaps Porzingis. After missing all of last season due to a torn ACL, Porzingis has gotten the season off to an up-and-down start - not a surprise given the circumstances - but he's still averaging 18.5 points, 8.2 rebounds and 2.5 blocks while making 2.2 3-pointers per game, a career-high and the most in the league for a player his size.
Where Porzingis has struggled to score this season is in the post. According to NBA.com, Porzingis enters Saturday's game ranking in the 7th percentile in post-up efficiency with 0.53 points per possession. For context, there are only four players in the entire league who have been less efficient that Porzingis in the post so far.
If Porzingis can return to being the post-up player he was in his last season with the Knicks, when he was among the league leaders in scoring and ranked in the 74th percentile in efficiency, it would add an element to the Mavs' offence that is currently missing. Whereas teams can currently get away with a smaller defender matching up with him, it would make pick-and-rolls involving Porzingis and Doncic nearly impossible to guard because it would open up the door for them to attack whichever one has the greater mismatch when teams switch.
This game will be the final on Toronto's five-game Western Conference road trip. They are 3-1, with wins coming over the New Orleans Pelicans, Los Angeles Lakers and Portland Trail Blazers, their lone loss coming against Kawhi Leonard and the LA Clippers.
The Raptors have dealt with injuries to Kyle Lowry, Serge Ibaka and OG Anunoby, but Nick Nurse said earlier in the week that he expects Anunoby to return against the Mavericks. If so, it would give the Raptors another versatile wing defender they can throw at Doncic.
The Raptors have had a lot of success slowing down star players so far on this road trip. LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard and Damian Lillard - three early MVP candidates - combined to average 11.3 points on 9-for-38 (23.7 percent) shooting from the field against the Raptors. Leonard also committed a career-high nine turnovers in Toronto's loss to the Clippers.
Will the Raptors have similar success against Doncic, whether Anunoby plays or not? The last time Doncic played against the Raptors, he put up 35 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists in a loss for the Mavericks.
MORE: The Raptors are kryptonite for opposing All-Stars
As for the other end of the floor, the Raptors continue to get strong play out of Pascal Siakam and Fred VanVleet. Siakam is averaging 30.0 points, 9.3 rebounds and 4.3 assists over his last four games and VanVleet is coming off of his second 30-point game of the season.
The Raptors have gotten contributions from a number of bench players over the last week as well. Chris Boucher stepped up against the Lakers and Clippers, scoring in double figures in back-to-back games, Terence Davis scored a career-high 15 points in Toronto's win over Portland and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson has shown his potential after not being a part of the rotation to start the season.
Hollis-Jefferson has gone from playing a total of four minutes in the first eight games of the season to averaging 23.3 minutes in his last three games. He averaged 11.7 points, 7.7 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 0.7 blocks in those minutes.
MORE: Hollis-Jefferson has arrived for the Raptors
As of Friday night, the only players listed on the injury report for the Raptors are Serge Ibaka, Kyle Lowry and Patrick McCaw.
There is nobody on the injury report for the Mavericks.
- Siakam has already made 21 above the break 3-pointers this season. He made a total of 17 above the break 3s all of last season.
- VanVleet leads the league with 38.4 minutes per game.
- Marc Gasol is off to a slow start offensively this season, but the Raptors have been a far better team with him on the court. According to NBA.com, the Raptors are outscoring opponents by 11.1 points per possessions with him in the lineup. They are being outscored by 1.4 points per 100 possessions with him on the bench.
- Porzingis has blocked at least five shots in three games this season. That's the most in the league, Brook Lopez, Jarrett Allen and LaMarcus Aldridge being the only other players with at least two such games.
- Porzingis currently ranks third in the league with 2.5 blocks per game. Jonathan Isaac and Anthony Davis are the only players ahead of him.
- Doncic is averaging 18.8 potential assists per game. Only one player in the league is averaging more: LeBron James, with 20.0.
- Doncic is creating a whopping 23.4 points per game for his teammates with his assists.
Last Time They Played
Date: Jan. 27, 2019
Score: Raptors 123, Mavericks 120
Raptors: Kawhi Leonard - 33 points, 10 rebounds, 3 assists
Mavericks: Luka Doncic - 35 points, 12 rebounds, 10 assists
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