The Dallas Mavericks (5-3) held off the Toronto Raptors (5-4) at home Friday night, 111-110. Luka Doncic led the Mavericks with 35 points, eight rebounds, and six assists. O.G. Anunoby scored 27 in defeat for the Raptors.
A massive Toronto Raptors line up greeted a revised Dallas Mavericks starting five. Toronto ran early, getting transition baskets and second chance points. Luka Doncic patiently worked his way into the game, driving and kicking for good looks. A back and forth affair for the entire period, the teams traded baskets throughout. Second chance points for Toronto kept them in it, while Luka Doncic’s 14 points powered Dallas. A late steal and lay in from Josh Green gave Dallas a 31-29 lead after twelve minutes of action.
With Luka Doncic getting his regular rest to start the second quarter, the remixed bench unit for the Mavericks made quite the impression. The Mavericks matched the Raptor’s length and energy and opted to push the pace with fantastic defense. Christian Wood and JaVale McGee helped Dallas slowly build up an eight point lead midway through the quarter. Threes helped the Raptors eliminate that lead quickly, but with the return of Doncic the Mavericks extended the lead through threes of their own, including two from Spencer Dinwiddie. Dallas held a 62-57 lead at the half.
The second half began with a brutal stretch of turnovers for the Raptors, three straight offensive fouls. That, paired with an active Dallas defense (Luka had three steals and a block) resulted in the Mavericks building up a 19 point lead midway through the frame. Toronto wasn’t ready to quit and kept the pressure on Dallas. A Doncic technical, following a bad reach call, pulled the Raptors within 11 with two minutes to go. But a Christian Wood three, a Doncic jumper, and a Wood dunk helped give Dallas an authoritative 96-81 lead heading into the fourth.
In a stark role reversal, the Mavericks started the fourth turning the ball over repeatedly and specifically through called offensive fouls. The Raptors cut the lead to single digits with nine minutes remaining before a Christian Wood oop to Maxi Kleber finally put the Mavericks on the board in quarter four. Doncic returned earlier than usual to try to stem the tide, but the Raptors would not go quietly, even with Pascal Siakam ruled out with a groin injury, cutting the lead all the way down to three. A Doncic step back and a multi-shot possession Dallas which ate up a ton of clock gave Dallas enough breathing room to hold Toronto off. Following a free throw shooting contest and a last second O.G. Anunoby three, Dallas holds off Toronto 111-110.
Now, some thoughts
Trust in the team
Considering how Luka Doncic heavy the Mavericks are as a team, one might forgive me for leading with his stellar offensive play once again. Instead, willingness to trust his teammates is perhaps the key offensive element in why the Mavericks won this barnburner of a game.
In the second half of the third quarter, the Raptors made a point to get the ball out of Doncic’s hands, sending traps from multiple angles. Doncic made the right pass out of those traps, which is something we’ve come to expect. The Mavericks built up their massive lead in the third off of the plays those pass recipients made, like the Tim Hardaway Jr. three at the four minute mark from Maxi Kleber. It’s a simple thing, and one we’ve seen plenty of over the years, but it never gets old to see, particularly against a team as good as the Raptors.
Bench play and responding positively to change
A great deal of credit is owed to JaVale McGee. He came to Dallas to start and made it known that was a big reason why he chose Dallas out of the suitors he had pursuing him. So when he was removed from the starting line up in this game, it would’ve been understandable had he not been focused during his minutes. Instead, his four minute stint to start the second quarter was huge for a Dallas bench unit which has had mixed success.
That bench unit, led by Spencer Dinwiddie and the ever energetic Josh Green, played a fantastic stint in that quarter. There was a great deal of length and activity, with Christian Wood and McGee manning the front court, alongside Dinwiddie, Green, and Hardaway. The team’s play allowed Luka Doncic to get an extended rest on the bench and built up and impressive nine point lead.
Though they stumbled a bit to start the fourth quarter (without McGee), this energetic bench unit has something. Green’s continued case for minutes is worth following as well, as he’s playing great on both sides of the ball.
Surviving the turnovers, offensive rebounds, and second chance points
The Dallas Mavericks thoroughly outplayed the Toronto Raptors for most of this game. Save for a flurry in the fourth quarter where they made a strong push, down 15, Dallas really dominated. The offensive rebounds by Toronto and second chance points as a result, really helped keep them in the game; the Raptors attempted 11 more shots.
Getting outrebounded by 13 is never good, and it’s something Dallas will have to take a look at. Many of the rebounds came from transition attempts, which Dallas hasn’t been good at defending during my time as a Mavericks writer. It’s something to keep an eye on, particularly if Dallas sticks with Dwight Powell in a starting role.
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