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3 things to watch as the Mavericks take on the Raptors

What is on the line for the Mavericks ahead of their matchup against Toronto?

NBA: Dallas Mavericks at Toronto Raptors Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Mavericks kept their dream of avoiding the play-in tournament alive by easily defeating a New Orleans Pelicans squad that was down 4 starters. Up next, the Mavericks face the Toronto Raptors who have nothing to play for as the season concludes.

Toronto is no longer in playoff contention and are all but certain to enter the NBA Lottery with the seventh best odds. They have nothing to gain from tanking but also nothing to lose from winning. They are on the second night of a back to back after losing to the Chicago Bulls.

The only question is how many, if any, veterans will actually suit up against the Mavericks. There isn’t anything interesting to preview in regards to the game itself. Instead, let’s take a look at what’s on the line for the Mavericks moving forward.

How does Kristaps Porzingis look?

Mavericks fans should focus on one thing, and that’s whether or not Porzingis looks physically capable of protecting the rim. It’s almost irrelevant what he does on the offensive end tonight. This team’s ceiling is determined by his ability to alter shots in the paint. If we see a bouncy Porzingis, able to rotate to attacking players in the lane, Mavericks fans should rejoice. Porzingis recently claimed his legs feel fresh and ready for playoff basketball. If that’s true, we should see signs of it tonight.

Avoiding the play-in

The Mavericks have a one game lead over the Lakers and own the head to head tiebreaker. Barring a complete disaster, this team’s floor appears to be the 6th seed and a likely rematch against the Los Angeles Clippers.

Fifth seed please

Outside of the number one seed, the forth and fifth seeds may be the most coveted heading into the playoffs. Why? It keeps you on the opposite end of the Los Angeles Lakers in the bracket and would mean a second round matchup with the Utah Jazz should they take care of business in the first round.

It’s hard to trust this Jazz team and they may enter the playoffs hobbled after recent injuries to Mike Conley and Donovan Mitchell. After the Suns pulled a rabbit out of a hat against the Blazers last night, the Mavericks now control their own destiny for the fifth seed.

Were the Mavs to win out against the Raptors and Timberwolves, they would enter the playoffs with more than a puncher’s chance to beat the Nuggets in a best of seven series. If this Mavs team is going to make a Cinderella run, it will have to be as the fifth seed.

How to Watch

The Raptors visit Dallas and tip off is on BallySports at 9:00 p.m. EDT.