What to watch as the Raptors hit the road for three Western Conference matchups in four nights, beginning with Mavericks in Dallas tonight (8:30 PM ET, Sportsnet ONE, TSN 1050).
Trouble Ahead? Tonight’s game against the Mavericks opens a very difficult stretch for the Raptors wrapped around a brief holiday break.
Eight of their next 10 games will be played on the road, including stops in San Antonio, Indianapolis, Oklahoma City, Miami and tonight in Dallas, where the Raptors have won just three times in 17 tries against the Mavs.
They’ve inexplicably played better on the road with a 5-6 mark, but that’s going to get challenged considerably over these next two-and-a-half weeks with four back-to-back sets thrown into the mix.
Familiar Faces In Big D.
— Leo Rautins (@LeoRautins) December 20, 2013
Monta Ellis and Dirk Nowitzki are the focal points on this Mavericks team, but it should also be a Raptors reunion tonight with Jose Calderon, Shawn Marion and Vince Carter all in the Dallas lineup. Raptors radio analyst Eric Smith caught the DeRozan-Calderon reunion today at shootaround. There’s something in my eye… hang on…
— Eric Smith (@Eric__Smith) December 20, 2013
Calderon is having a solid first season with the Mavericks. The assists are down a little, but he’s taking (and making) way more threes. Calderon spoke after shootaround about his adjustment to Dallas, success with the Mavs and meeting up with some former teammates on Thursday.
How much of an impact did Jose have with the Raptors during his time here? An interesting perspective on that from DeMar DeRozan after shootaround on Friday…
For even more nostalgia, hear from head coach Dwane Casey on what he learned as an assistant under Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle, plus more from a very mature Vince Carter.
Can They Build On Positives From Wednesday? We’ve seen the Raptors fail to put together a full 48 minutes on a few occasions this season, but Wednesday was the first time to see it happen with players acquired from the Kings in the lineup.
The Raptors aim to bounce back after blowing a 16-point, third-quarter lead against the Bobcats and then getting beat at the buzzer in overtime by Kemba Walker. A disastrous result, but that isn’t to say this team hasn’t shown signs of improvement.
For one, the Raptors continue to move the ball much more effectively post-trade. they’ve recorded 20+ assists for four consecutive games, a season-high and are 5-2 when they get past that mark. They had 22 on Wednesday vs. the Bobcats, which was the first time they’ve lost a game this season when they have as many or more assists than their opponent (6-1).
Bench scoring has also been a trouble spot for the Raptors this season, but it’s also been improving. The Raptors reserves have scored at least 30 points in each of the last two games, something they’ve accomplished only four other times this season.