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.
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.
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.
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