After losing to the Toronto Raptors last week on the road, Dallas started Seth Curry, and Nerlens Noel in their attempt to get the win back. Unfortunately, a brutal shooting night from distance doomed the Mavericks to a 94-86 loss.
The Mavs started the game with a Wes Matthews turnover. While Seth got the Mavericks on the board with a free throw line jumper after Ibaka was hesitant to help off of Dirk on a high screen, the Raptors could not miss. As Dallas played with little intensity on either end, Toronto got everything they wanted early on, forcing Coach Carlisle to burn 2 timeouts in the first 3 minutes. Particularly problematic for Dallas was the play of the Raptors frontcourt. In usual fashion, regardless of which team he’s playing for, Serge Ibaka continued his trend of strong-play against Dallas with 10 points in the first five minutes, while Jonas Valanciunas proved to be another true center that Noel struggled to body up against. While not having a particularly strong quarter, Dallas managed to stay attached with the help of a Noel And-1 using that little push shot that he’s been showing off more and more, and a Devin Harris to Salah Mejri alley-oop to finish the quarter down 30-22.
Coach Carlisle opted to start the quarter with Dwight Powell and Dorian Finney-Smith, but nonetheless, the Mavs got off to another bad start. Burdened with the bad combination of not being able to score or stop the other team, Dallas let the Raptors go on a 7-0 run before burning another timeout. Shortly after, rookie of the month Yogi Ferrell checked into the game and using full court pressure, and his improving change-of-speed attacks, scored 7 straight points for the Mavericks, preventing the game from getting out of hand. After Toronto went on another mini-run of their own, Harrison Barnes took matters into his own hands, scoring 11 points in the last 5 minutes of the quarter including a beautiful one dribble, spin move, and-1 on Ibaka. Dallas entered the half down 54-44.
The third quarter began a bit sloppy for both teams, with a lot of bodies ending up on the floor after battling for rebounds. Dallas continued to show its 2-3 zone, and cut into Toronto’s lead behind its persistent, aggressive attacks. One play worth noting was Noel chasing down and blocking what seemed to be a wide open Valanciunas dunk, which led to a Harris layup to cut the Toronto lead to 7. After Toronto stretched the led again behind the crafty play of DeMar DeRozan, a deep J.J. Barea three to beat the buzzer had the Mavs down 74-64 heading into the fourth.
After yet another poor start to the quarter as Toronto went on a quick 5-0 run, Dallas regrouped and began a run of their own behind a patented Devin Harris pull up jumper. After Mejri took a charge on Delon Wright, Harris baited Norman Powell into a cheap foul up top and got the continuation to convert the 3 point play, as part of a 10-0 run. However, back to back jumpers by Ibaka put Dallas back in a 9 point hole. Although Dallas continued to chip away at the Raptors lead, they ultimately couldn’t get enough stops, losing the game 94-86.
- The Raptors are a tough match-up for the Mavs, as they have multiple off-the-dribble threats, and employ numerous versatile big men capable of switching. Against a team like Toronto, Dallas has a small margin of error in order to have a chance at winning, and while the team fought hard, shooting 7-28 from the three point line is not going to get it done.
- While I continue to be a fan of the Nerlens Noel acquisition, Noel and the team need to find a way to make him more effective against teams with true centers. Continuing the trend, Noel struggled to hold his own against the Raptors big men, specifically, Jonas Valanciunas. Although Valanciunas played limited minutes due to a minor injury, he easily beat Noel for position numerous times, and had little difficulty pushing Noel around. While this is to be expected, Dallas needs a way to find Noel’s strengths: his quickness, leaping ability, etc. on the other end to compensate for his lack of physical strength.
- Despite being one of Dallas’ best performers today, and coming up with multiple key baskets to stop the game from falling out of reach, Devin Harris only played 18 minutes. In contrast, Curry and Matthews, who both had unremarkable performances played over 30. I’m in no position to question Carlisle’s rotations and coaching decisions, but it seemed like the Mavs could have used more of Devin’s defense and decisive scoring today.