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3 things to watch as the Dallas Mavericks host the Toronto Raptors

Can the Mavericks turn this into an actual win streak

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Toronto Raptors v Dallas Mavericks Photo by Tim Heitman/Getty Images

The Dallas Mavericks (4-3) play host to the Toronto Raptors (5-3) Friday night at 7:30 pm CST at the American Airlines Center. The match up features two of the NBA’s young stars in Luka Doncic and Pascal Siakam, each of whom are absolutely stuffing the stat sheet night in and night out this far this season.

Luka Doncic leads the lead in scoring with 36.1 points per game while also chipping in 8.9 rebounds and 9 assists per game. Siaham is a tornado, leading the Raptors in every major box score category: 25.6 points, 9.6 rebounds, 7.9 assists, 2.9 steals, and a block every game.

It has the potential to be an outstanding game, so let’s get right into the things to think about prior to the game.

A good start

Despite winning their last two games, the Dallas Mavericks have had rough first quarters defensively, giving up 34 points to the Magic, then 35 points to the Jazz in the opening frame. The blame’s been passed around: JaVale McGee’s low energy and poor execution, Jason Kidd for refusing to alter the starting line up, and Luka Doncic for having poor effort on the defensive end.

This tweet is an entire thread of defensive miscues from the first quarter alone for the Mavericks against the Jazz.

The bottom line here is that no matter what the root problem is, the Mavericks need to get it together. The Toronto Raptors have played eight straight quarters where they’ve scored 30 points or more and they’ve annihilated both team they’ve played, winning by a combined 73 points.

The Mavericks must come ready to play against a determined Raptors squad or this might be a painful Friday night game.

Luka Doncic versus length

What bothers Luka Doncic when it comes to basketball? At this point, we’ve seen everything possible: strength, size, length, double teams, single coverage, zone, you name it he’s seen it.

The immediate response to the question tends to be a variation of “nothing” or “the referees”, but a flood of length is perhaps the best recipe to stifling Doncic’s game. The Raptors have the ingredients for that recipe.

Watching how Luka Doncic breaks down the Raptors (and I have every reason to think that he will) should be a really fun chess match to watch. Will the Raptors single cover Doncic and cut off his passing lanes like we’ve seen a number of times already this season, or will they send waves of defenders at him?

Tim Hardaway, finding a role

There’s no other way around the fact that through six games, Tim Hardaway Jr. has been dreadful. He’s playing 25 minutes a game, taking a shot ever two and a half minutes, and connecting on just over 30% of his field goals and three pointers. He’s mostly getting good looks, but there’s somewhat of a lid on the basket and it’s made his minutes painful, particularly as he’s looked off other players in the bench unit.

Hardaway had a key function with the Dallas Mavericks for two seasons before coach Jason Kidd arrived. The coaching staff needs to go review some tape and figure out whether less was more for Hardaway with the previous administration. He’s yet to have meaningful, helpful basketball minutes under Kidd for a sustained stretch of games. But the talent is there! Perhaps he can find something against Toronto.

The Dallas Mavericks will tip off against Toronto Raptors at 7:30 pm CST. All nationally televised NBA games can be watched on SlingTV.