10 things I saw from Raptors-Mavericks (13–3–2017)

  1. Feel good win: The Raptors should beat the Mavericks at home, but most of the frustration this season has come down to the Raptors not performing as they should. Every Raptor played their part in getting the win in front of a rejuvenated ACC crowd that once again cheered free pizza like a championship. Take this energy and bottle it.
  2. This day in Raptors history: It was a dozen years ago when Donyell Marshall drilled 12 threes to tie an NBA record (since broken by the lesser Curry brother). The Raptors honored Donyell by being respectable from deep, which is really all you can ask for. 9–25 is still pretty shitty, but it’s a lot better than 4–25 or 2–15.
  3. Scoring at will: DeMar DeRozan cannot be stopped. He beat every Mavericks defender put before him and forced the Mavs to double and eventually, to throw full-on zone defenses to cut him off, and even that didn’t work. DeRozan carved up the paint and splashed a handful of midrange pull-up jumpers. He can do this all day.
  4. Attacking the rim: The central tenant of Dwane Casey’s offense is going to the cup. His guards attacked the paint relentlessly tonight against a Mavericks team missing their only rim protector. Everyone from DeRozan down to VanVleet did a great job of going hard into the paint, then either finishing or kicking it out to the open shooter.
  5. Intriguing prospect: Delon Wright flashed the full arsenal. He scored off a post move, provided alert help defense to spark a fast break, drilled a pull-up three, broke down his man on a mismatch, provided a huge helpside block and made some excellent passes. Wright is maddeningly inconsistent but it’s clear the potential is there.
  6. Bench strength: Huge bounceback game from the Raptors’ bench who no-showed the roadtrip. Patrick Patterson (remember him?) drilled two threes, VanVleet brought energy and aggression at the point, Wright was slick. Most importantly they played lockdown defense. Dallas missed 12-straight shots between the third and the fourth as the bench blew this game wide open.
  7. Dirk vs. Jonas: Mr. 30K was always going to burn Jonas Valanciunas in pick and roll, but Jonas also had his advantages in the post with Dirk Nowitzki playing center.
  8. Rick Carlisle wisely targeted Valanciunas in high screen action with Dirk. The Raptors hedged early on but that (predictably) opened up everything. Dirk was raining jumpers and it was an easy layup for the guard whenever he got around Jonas out top.
  9. In turn, Dwane Casey force fed Jonas in the low block. 39-year-old Dirk couldn’t handle Valanciunas’ bulk and aggression and could only hack Jonas to pieces. Carlisle tried to send double teams, but the Raptors broke that by playing pick and roll and getting Jonas looks on the move. Basketball is about exploiting weaknesses and both coaches did that.
  10. Y’all really fucking love Pizza Pizza.