A Friday evening matchup between two groups on a roll? Two elite, do-it-all, triple-threats who’re already getting MVP buzz?
An opportunity for Pascal Siakam and the Toronto Raptors to check themselves towards Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks to see Toronto’s high-level, high-pressure defence that has yielded an astounding 41 opponents’ turnovers and an much more spectacular 84 fastbreak factors of their previous two video games?
It doesn’t get a lot better in early November. Sadly, the Mavericks have been the higher staff as they withstood a livid fourth-quarter comeback from a 15-point deficit to begin the quarter to win 111-110 — the ultimate rating a bit flattering for Toronto, who threatened down the stretch however solely received it to 1 possession after a last-second three by O.G. Anunoby.
The Raptors performed their third straight sport with out Fred VanVleet, attributable to again tightness, and misplaced Pascal Siakam to a scary-looking groin damage late within the third quarter. Toronto is now 5-4 on the season, whereas Dallas improved to 5-3.
The Raptors allowed Dallas to shoot 50.6 per cent from the ground, whereas solely changing 44.3 per cent of their very own photographs. Toronto had an 18-6 edge on offensive rebounds whereas every staff was 21-for-25 from the road and made 19 turnovers. Dallas was 12-of-34 from deep, whereas Toronto was 11-of-34.
What to do about Doncic
The Raptors needed to do one thing. The 23-year-old got here into the sport with an absurd line of 36.1 factors, 8.9 rebounds and 9.0 assists. It appears inconceivable he may preserve that tempo, but when he does his PER (participant effectivity ranking) of 36.1, it could blow previous Nikola Jokic’s all-time report of 32.85 set final season as he gained his second consecutive MVP award.
Toronto opted to double-cover him just about at each probability. Whoever the first defender was – Scottie Barnes received the task early, Valuable Achiuwa and O.G. Anunoby all took turns additionally, because the Raptors tried to maintain measurement on the 6-foot-9 level guard for the Mavericks – stayed with Doncic even after he tried to place them into pick-and-roll. Simpler mentioned than carried out.
Late within the first quarter, Doncic was being stymied by Barnes and known as up Maxi Kleber – who was being lined by Chris Boucher — to set a display screen. Barnes and Boucher dutifully doubled solely to observe as Doncic did a spin dribble between them and rifled a move cross-court to a wide-open Tim Hardaway Jr. within the nook for a 3.
On the subsequent possession, Doncic faked like he going to not use the display screen, got here again the opposite manner to make use of it and began rolling downhill together with his proper hand. The Raptors didn’t double, and Doncic simply moseyed his option to the rim for the lay-up. And when he wasn’t doing that? Doncic was residing on the free-throw line.
Late within the third quarter, he was in isolation towards Achiuwa – nearly as good a defender in these conditions as there may be within the league. Doncic went by way of about six completely different dribble strikes, making an attempt to get Achiuwa to chew, however he wouldn’t.
Lastly, with the shot clock winding down, Doncic simply went to his one-legged fadeaway and let it fly about 20 toes within the air. It touched solely internet on the best way by way of the rim. Excellent defence and it didn’t matter. Powerful cowl. Doncic completed with 35 factors, eight rebounds and 6 help whereas capturing 10-of-15 from the ground.
Siakam is true there
It’s exhausting to precise how lofty a purpose the Raptors star set for himself when he mentioned he needed to be a “top-five” participant within the NBA firstly of coaching camp. In Nikola Jokic, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Steph Curry, and Kevin Durant there are a minimum of 4 earlier MVP winners of their prime and able to profitable one other.
Then there’s Doncic, who has been first-team All-NBA for 3 straight years, and let’s not neglect Jayson Tatum and Joel Embiid. The checklist goes on. However Siakam is making himself heard.
Towards the Mavericks he went off for 17 factors within the first half – one higher than Doncic — grinding out factors on an evening when the Raptors have been in any other case struggling for offence. His defence was on-point too. He was on his option to one other large evening – he had 18 factors, seven rebounds and 6 assists earlier than he received damage, so was effectively on his option to one other triple-double, and greater than holding his personal towards Doncic. The one hope now’s his damage is only a tweak, quite than one thing extra extreme and he doesn’t miss an excessive amount of time, if in any respect. The issue is the Raptors have a back-to-back towards Chicago arising, the beginning of 5 video games in seven days, so we’ll see.
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Porter Jr. reveals what he can supply
Otto Porter Jr. confirmed a number of the smarts he’s identified for early within the second quarter when, late within the shot clock, he seen the Mavericks’ Spencer Dinwiddie bouncing the ball in no man’s land towards Dalano Banton. Porter made a transfer in direction of the ball, faking a double however staying within the passing lane and when Dinwiddie tried to move it again to Porter’s man the latest Raptor received his mitts on it for a deflection resulting in a Dallas shot-clock violation.
He later had a steal that led to a fastbreak and a triple as Raptors head coach Nick Nurse performed him with a largely starters group minus Gary Trent Jr. so Toronto may preserve some capturing on the ground whereas Trent Jr. rested. So there are indicators of what Porter Jr. will be capable of supply as he rounds into taking part in form. He was additionally on the ground because the Raptors made an early fourth-quarter run, his second three reducing the Mavericks’ result in eight when Doncic sat. However as soon as once more one of the best Raptors bench participant was Chris Boucher, who’s delivering beneficiant doses of enhanced ability and persistence to go together with his trademark power as he put up 17 factors, grabbed 9 rebounds and was a team-best +20 in his 29 minutes.
O.G. retains thieving
Not all of the Raptors got here to play towards the Mavericks, however Anunoby performed his third out-standing sport in a row, highlighted by one more demonstration of unbelievable defence. As we’ve identified earlier than steals are alone proof of excellent defence, however at a sure level, they grow to be proof of a participant who’s locked in on the duty and has the mixture of quickness and measurement to easily erase possessions.
Anunoby is that man proper now. It was his third straight sport with 5 or extra steals and the seventh time in 9 video games he recorded a number of thefts. However Anunoby’s offence – lacklustre by way of the primary 4 video games when he shot simply 38.5 per cent from the ground – joined his defence. He put up a season-high 27 factors for Toronto towards Dallas on 11-of-21 capturing. He’s now averaging 18.6 factors per sport and capturing 38 per cent from deep. It was a disgrace that his try to poke the ball away from Doncic within the closing minute ended up placing the Mavericks star on the road for a pair of free throws that iced the sport.
Hopefully Barnes is okay
The Raptors star sophomore sprained his proper ankle late within the low season after which rolled it once more within the first half of Toronto’s first sport towards Miami final week.
He solely missed one begin and definitely appeared tremendous after that: in 4 video games earlier than final evening since returning to the lineup Barnes was averaging 16.3 factors, 6.8 rebounds and 4.3 assists on 53.3 per cent capturing, together with capturing 48 per cent from three on greater than 5 makes an attempt a sport.
However Barnes twisted his proper ankle within the first quarter once more final evening, and whereas he stayed within the sport, he appeared to jam his ankle once more making an attempt to avoid wasting a free ball earlier than halftime. He seemed to be on his option to his weakest outing of the season …. However then he scored 11 factors within the closing 13 minutes of the sport and completed together with his first profession triple-double, as he added 11 rebounds and 10 assists, although his 5 turnovers and 4-of-12 capturing have been uncharacteristic.