Stop me if you’ve heard this one before, but Dallas is set to square off against a team missing their star player. With Pascal Siakam still working back from a right abductor strain, the Mavericks should, in theory, have a foot up on a weakened squad. But as anyone who’s been watching along this season knows, that is far from a guarantee.
Dallas already has a victory over the Raptors at full strength, beating them when they came to Dallas back on November 4th, so maybe this is an instance where the Mavericks can take advantage and bounce back from a pretty ugly loss against the Celtics.
The shooting woes of Dallas’ role players are well-discussed at this point. To an extent, all they can do is keep letting ‘em fly and hope to shoot themselves out of it. However, the game plan can’t just be to lose games until that happens.
Toronto does a good job at keeping teams out of the restricted area, giving up just 26.3 attempts per game over the last 10 games, which ranks in the bottom half of the league. However, teams that have made it that deep are shooting 68.8 percent; the sixth-highest in the league. As much as it would be nice for the players around Luka Doncic to suddenly shoot 45 percent collectively from deep, it will likely be a longer, more painful process.
The kick outside
If Dallas does make it a point to work to get to the rim, all the more chances it opens up drive-and-kick opportunities. Toronto, over that same 10-game stretch, is giving up the most corner attempts per game in the league at 11.8 per game.
This is a boon for Dallas especially, as they shoot the corner three at nearly 40 percent, and it’s been the favorite spot for guys like Dorian Finney-Smith and Reggie Bullock; two guys who could use a good shooting game to get over the early season slump.
The data is in
The mirages of small sample sizes are starting to dissipate and real concrete trends are beginning to become discernable. The reality for Dallas is that Christian Wood and Josh Green have been positive players.
Of Dallas’s three-man lineups that have played at least 100 minutes so far this season, Wood and Green feature in four out of Dallas’ top five lineups by plus/minus, and three of those five feature Wood and Green playing together.
Head Coach Jason Kidd’s reluctance to start Wood was always a bit of a head-scratcher, but to continue much further down that road borders on self-sabotage. Kidd loves his defensive-minded guys, but at some point, the best players need to be on the floor.
How to watch
You can broadcast or stream the game on Bally Sports Southwest at 4:00 CST.