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3 things to watch for as the Mavericks clash with the Raptors

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Dallas is looking to right the ship after a heartbreaking loss to the Atlanta Hawks

Minnesota Timberwolves v Dallas Mavericks Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The good thing about basketball is there aren’t many days to dwell on a loss. One day typically separates games, and that day some times includes travel. With the Mavericks traveling to Toronto to take on the 5-0 Raptors, there’s not much time to think about a 26 point blown lead Wednesday night. Kawhi Leonard and Kyle Lowry await the up-and-down Mavericks and look to reach the best start in Raptors franchise history.

On the other hand, Dallas is looking to find some sort of consistency. The Mavericks looked well on their way to three straight victories until they simply collapsed against the Hawks. The Raptors are just the first leg in a brutal four-game stretch, so the Mavericks will have to bounce back quickly with a strong showing up North.

Here’s what to watch for as Dallas tries to surface above .500.

Help on the way?

Harrison Barnes has missed the last four games with a hamstring injury, but the forward hopes to make his season debut tonight. Per Bobby Karalla of mavs.com, Barnes will test the hamstring at morning shoot around and go from there.

The Mavericks desperately needed Barnes Wednesday night. There were multiple instances when the team needed a bucket to stop the bleeding but had to throw up a desperation heave at the end of the clock. The return of Barnes would also likely allow Dorian Finney-Smith to return to the bench and provide a much needed defensive presence with the second unit. Also, the Mavs need Barnes’ 16 shot attempts per game so certain other players don’t shoot 21 times in one game.

*in the voice of the Toy Story Space Crane game aliens inside of Pizza Planet*

THE CLAWWW

“The Claw is our master.”

“The Claw chooses who will go and who will stay.”

Other than the Los Angeles Lakers’ free agency mega-acquisition of Lance Stephenson and JaVale McGee LeBron James, the Raptors arguably made the biggest splash in the offseason trading for superstar Kawhi Leonard. The former Spur had a tumultuous ending in San Antonio and made it known he wanted to play in LA, but the Raptors risked it for the biscuit, and the gamble has paid dividends thus far.

Leonard is averaging 28 points with a 51/47/90 shooting split while tacking on eight rebounds. In related news, the Raptors are tied for the best start in franchise history. After missing virtually all of last season, Leonard is reinserting himself as the best two-way player in the game and reminding everyone just how dominant he is. I’m getting sad just thinking about him guarding Luka Doncic.

Live by the three, die by the three

Don’t look now but the Mavericks sit atop the standings in ... three-point attempts per game at 42.5. Unfortunately, the Mavs are converting those attempts at 32 percent clip, good for 25th in the league. And if that wasn’t enough, Dallas is dead last in defending the arc allowing opponents to shoot a scorching 50 percent. The Mavs will have to scramble and contest if they want to keep the game close. The Raptors are a top ten team in three-point shooting, converting at a rate of 38 percent.

How to watch

The game tips at 6:30 CT and can be watched locally on FSSW or on NBA League Pass.