The Fast Break: Mavs at Raptors

Final: Raptors 122, Mavs 115

Box Score | Highlights

Behind the Box Score

The Mavs took a 60-54 lead into the halftime break. It was just the sixth time this season Toronto has allowed at least 60 points through two quarters in 34 home games.

Dirk Nowitzki became just the eighth player in NBA history to make 11,000 field goals in a career. The next inactive player ahead of him on the list is Shaquille O’Neal in sixth place at 11,330. (LeBron James is in seventh place and is therefore still climbing the chart as well.) Should Nowitzki return for season No. 21, he’d likely pass O’Neal so long as he plays a healthy load of games like he has so far this season.

Notebook

  • Harrison Barnes continued playing very good basketball in this one, finishing with a team-leading 27 points on 20 shots. He’s been in a nice groove these last couple games and has done it by getting to the rim, no matter the defender. Barnes was averaging more than seven free throw attempts per game in his last 10 before tonight, and while he didn’t get to seven attempts in this contest, he was still able to put consistent pressure on the defense by putting the ball on the floor and making things happen. His late turnover when the game was tied at 106 hurt, no question about it, but he was still able to put together a brilliant performance to keep his team in it down the stretch as the Raptors launched a comeback on their home floor.

  • I was stunned to learn that Doug McDermott’s career-high for assists in a game heading into this one was just four. He’s been a reserve player for much of his career, but what makes it pretty surprising is seeing just how good a passer he is. He made a couple sweet finds tonight coming off of screens, where you can really see just how much opposing defenders respect his jump shot. First there was a lob pass to Nerlens Noel.

    And then McDimes found Dirk Nowitzki for a long 2-pointer. (How many players will defenders leave Dirk open for?)

    Finally in the fourth quarter, McDermott found a cutting Jameel Warney for a layup with a perfectly placed bounce pass.

    That one was pure skill, as defenders weren’t overplaying his jumper. In fact, that pass didn’t really even come out of a set play; it’s hard to tell based on when the gif starts, but this was almost a broken-play situation for Dallas. McDermott and Warney were basically improvising at this point but were still able to connect and create an easy layup.

  • Nerlens Noel was perhaps more active tonight than he’s been in any game since his return, and he’s had some really nice games since coming back. Tonight, though, he played like a man possessed on the defensive end, racking up five steals and three blocks while adding six points, six rebounds, and three assists. Noel has always had high steal numbers among his fellow centers, but what sets him apart is his ability to poke the ball away from defenders on the perimeter and also be able to stuff their shot on the inside. He’s got a rare combination of quick hands and tremendous shot-blocking instinct. Once he learns to harness his powers, he could become one of the most fearsome multi-talented defenders in the NBA. Remember, he’s only 23 years old.

  • Dorian Finney-Smith destroyed the rim tonight.

    Dennis Smith Jr. has had some beauties, but this one might be the dunk of the season. Finney-Smith took on the tallest defender on the floor and won. An incredible display of explosiveness, athleticism, and complete confidence. Not only was this cool, but it also gives you real reason to believe that Finney-Smith’s injury worries are a thing of the past. He’s played well since coming back from his lengthy absence.

    What’s Next

    The Mavs (22-47) will play the Brooklyn Nets (21-47) on Friday at the Barclays Center at 6:30 p.m. Central.

  • Game 69: Mavs at Raptors

    Finney-Smith Posterizes Valanciunas

    Dorian Finney-Smith gets the lob from Dennis Smith Jr. and puts Jonas Valanciunas on a poster with the slam dunk.

    The Fast Break: Mavs at Raptors

    Final: Raptors 103, Mavs 99

    Box Score | Highlights

    Behind the Box Score

    The Raptors roared out to a 14-2 lead and took a 32-16 advantage into the second quarter. Toronto only got the ball into the paint via drive or pass on 8 possessions in the opening frame, an extremely low number. Most of the team’s points — 22, to be exact — came when the ball didn’t even enter the paint. When teams get hot, they get extremely hot, but if Dallas can keep opponents out of the paint like that then it’s going to be hard to complain about the defense on most nights.

    The Mavericks didn’t score a fast break point in the first half, one of the weirder stats you’ll see in a game. Part of the problem, actually, was that even though Toronto committed 10 turnovers in the opening half, most of them were dead-ball turnovers (throwing passes out of bounds, losing control of the ball out of play, double-dribbles, traveling, etc.). The Mavs didn’t have many chances to push the ball the other way, forcing only 3 deflections in the first two quarters.

    Notebook

  • Dirk Nowitzki got off to a bit of a slow start, but he heated up in the second half, leading several Mavs pushes to bring the team back into the game. Nowitzki finished the game with 20 points, leaving him just 10 points away from passing Shaquille O’Neal on the NBA’s all-time scoring list. Pretty cool stuff.

  • You hate to see it due to the circumstances, but Rick Carlisle brought in his reserves late in the fourth quarter after the Raptors had taken a large lead with just a few minutes left. The unit of J.J. Barea, John Jenkins, Justin Anderson, Charlie Villanueva, and Jeremy Evans weren’t going to go down quietly, however, and they mounted a huge run to make things competitive once again, inexplicably reducing the deficit to as low as 2. The group was +12 as a five-man unit in the game, according to the Mavs analytics team. Those guys put together an unbelievable run in practically no time at all, which will certainly earn them the praise and respect of their coach and the rest of the locker room.

  • With Devin Harris out due to injury, Raymond Felton was the Mavs’ best defensive choice to use against Toronto’s Kyle Lowry, an All-Star-caliber point guard. Felton did an excellent job against Lowry all night, forcing him into tough shots and taking away anything easy — Felton frequently even guarded him all 94 feet as Lowry brought the ball up the floor. When you make a team work hard, especially one dealing with as many injuries Toronto, generally you’ll see the payoff somewhere. The Raps committed a lot of small mistakes that led to turnovers or botched possessions, and the Mavs were able to take advantage of many of them.

  • In a pretty surprising coaching move, Rick Carlisle inserted JaVale McGee into the lineup just over three minutes into the game. The Mavs were in the midst of a slow start, especially on the defensive glass, allowing 5 Raptors second-chance points in the opening minutes. Replacing Zaza Pachulia, McGee immediately won two defensive rebounding battles, intimidated DeMar DeRozan into a jump pass that ended up out of bounds, and threw down a dunk on the offensive end. McGee brings a whole new dimension to this Mavs team, bringing in an element of athleticism that has been missing at the center spot — obviously with no disrespect to Pachulia, who’s been incredible for Dallas this season. The minutes distribution between those two moving forward will be very interesting to follow, but it will likely depend most of all on the opponent.

  • Talk about a game of runs. The Raptors opened up ahead 14-2, then Dallas scored 8 straight, then the Raptors went up 32-14, and then before you know it the Mavs had scored 13 consecutive points. Finally, Toronto outscored Dallas 10-2 just before halftime to assume a 15-point lead. Basketball is an interesting sport. You never know what’s going to happen, but here’s the biggest thing to keep in mind: A game is never over as long as there’s time on the clock, especially when things seem like they’re getting out of hand in only the first or second quarter.

    What’s Next

    The Mavs (15-13) play the Brooklyn Nets (8-20) Tuesday at Barclays Center. Tip-off is at 6:30 p.m. Central.

  • The Fast Break: Mavs vs. Raptors

    Final: Raptors 102, Mavs 91

    Box Score | Highlights

    Behind the Box Score

    Toronto is playing very good defense so far this season, but the Mavs were able to find a way to generate easy offense. When Dallas’ perimeter players got into the paint on a drive, the club was able to score 0.98 points per possession. When they got into the paint on a pass, the Mavs scored 1.53 points per possession. And when the team finished a possession without entering the paint at all, Dallas scored 0.82 points per possession. There aren’t any secrets in this league. If you get in the paint, you’re going to be successful, and Dallas was able to do that tonight.

    The flip side was true, as well. The Raptors scored just 0.71 points per possession when they weren’t able to get into the paint, versus 1.45 points per when they got into the paint on either a drive or a pass. The difference between Toronto and Dallas, though, is Dallas got into the lane 73 times while the Raptors got in only 38 times.

    One thing that was really unusual, particularly in the first half, was the struggle of converting fast break opportunities into points. Dallas scored just 8 points total in 11 fast break possessions in the game. That’s good for 0.727 points per possession, when the club’s goal is to get well over 1.00. Toronto has very athletic wing players, especially DeMarre Carroll and Terrence Ross, so that helps in part to explain the difficulties. Generally fast break chances lead to easy-ish shots, but they just weren’t falling for the Mavs in this one. Sometimes the basketball gods are awfully unfair when it comes to shots bouncing in or out.

    Notebook

  • Dwight Powell was very active tonight, particularly on the offensive end. Heading into the home opener, Powell had never taken more than nine shots in a game in his career, according to Basketball-Reference. His 15 attempts against the Raptors were by far his career-high mark. The young big man combines activity with a nice shooting touch, especially from the mid-range. He also attacks rebounds on the defensive glass, which is nice to see; tonight he recorded his first career double-double. So long as he plays with high energy and continues to limit mistakes that some young players are prone to, he should have no issue maintaining his spot in the rotation moving forward.

  • The Mavs scored on six straight possessions at one point in the third quarter. Starting from the 9:15 mark in the third quarter, when the score was tied at 55, the Mavs’ possessions went as follows: Deron Williams hit two free throws, Zaza Pachulia hit a shot, Dirk Nowitzki made a jumper, Wesley Matthews hit a jumper, and Raymond Felton hit back-to-back shots. Toronto kept the pace, however, scoring on five straight possessions of their own. Everything evens out in this league, though, and the teams immediately entered a funk which saw six straight combined empty possessions. Sometimes this game isn’t as much about what you do when things are going well as much as it’s about how you respond when your team is cold.

  • One thing Rick Carlisle stressed heading into the game was the fact that the Raptors make it a point to get to the free throw line, so his team would have to defend without fouling. For the most part Dallas was able to do that, holding the Raptors to just 24 free throw attempts before the Mavs began intentionally fouling in the final minutes. For reference, the club was averaging 31.3 attempts per game in its first three games of the season. There is tremendous value in playing defense without fouling, as not only does it keep the opponent off of the free throw line, but if keeps your own players out of foul trouble. The Mavericks do have depth, but the surest way to compromise a bench advantage is to force reserves into the game early on due to foul trouble.

    What’s Next

    The Mavs (2-2) play the Charlotte Hornets (1-3) Thursday at the American Airlines Center. Tip-off is at 7:30 p.m. Central.