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Dallas Mavericks vs. Toronto Raptors: 3 Big Things to Watch

Dallas Basketball on FanNation 11/26/2022 Michael Mulford
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The Dallas Mavericks take on the Toronto Raptors on the road on Saturday. What are some of the biggest key things to watch? has you covered.

The Dallas Mavericks (9-8) hit the road to take on the Toronto Raptors (9-9) as both teams hope to avoid three-game losing streaks for the first time this season.

The Mavericks are coming off a 125-112 loss to the Boston Celtics on Wednesday despite a 42-point performance from Luka Doncic. Though Dallas fought back in the fourth quarter, cutting Boston's lead to just nine points, the Celtics had their foot on the gas from the opening quarter, leading by as much as 27 points in the game.

The Raptors are also coming off a loss on Wednesday, falling to the Brooklyn Nets, 112-98, as Toronto was outscored 77-51 in the first and third quarters. 

Here are three key things to watch for in Saturday night's contest.

Raptors shorthanded? Oh no…

The Mavericks are once again faced with a matchup where the opposing team is coming in hindered by injuries. On Saturday, the Raptors will be without Pascal Siakam, Scottie Barnes, Precious Achiuwa, Otto Porter Jr., and potentially Fred VanVleet.

On paper, things look great for Dallas to end their two-game skid and get the W on Saturday. Yet, it's evident so far this season, and in years past, that the Mavs tend to play down to their competition on a sadly consistent basis. 

Dallas comes into Toronto with a fully healthy roster as Maxi Kleber is probable to make his return to the lineup following missing the last four games due to a back strain, so there's no excuses on Saturday. 

Despite their injuries, Nick Nurse will still have his team ready to play, and they will play hard, no matter who is on the floor. So the Mavs better not overlook this Raptors’ team, or they'll leave Canada disappointed.

The Christian Wood game?

With a number of frontcourt injuries for the Raptors in Siakam, Barnes, and Achiuwa, the Mavericks have a chance to dominate down low in Saturday's contest. 

In comes Christian Wood

This could be a perfect opportunity to get Wood more involved. Not to say that he hasn't been involved so far this season, averaging 17.3 points per game, but he needs more touches and today could serve as a turning point for that.

Wood's chemistry with Doncic on Wednesday against the Celtics was evident and was one of the few positives for Dallas. Following the loss, Jason Kidd stated that “we've talked about changing the starting lineup” when referencing the strong connection between Wood and Doncic, and that “we'll see what happens Saturday.”

Against an injured Raptors team, today is the day to experiment with Wood as a starter and make that change. … Oh yeah, and throw Josh Green in there for Reggie Bullock too while starting lineup changes are being considered.

A scheduled must-win? Things won’t get any easier…

As noted above, the Mavericks have a great opportunity to strike first against an undermanned Raptors team and keep their foot on the gas through the full 48 minutes on Saturday. 

But, looking at their upcoming schedule, and their current two-game losing streak, Saturday's matchup in Toronto is a must-win for Dallas. 

Following Saturday's game, the Mavericks immediately head to Milwaukee to take on Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks on the second night of their back-to-back on Sunday. After their matchup with the Bucks, the Mavs head home to host red-hot Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday. 

The Western Conference is currently a traffic jam as just 2.5 games separate the No. 1 and the No. 10 seed. 

Simply put, every game matters. And with the Bucks and Warriors waiting in the wings for the Mavericks, Saturday's matchup against the depleted Raptors makes for a must-win. Let’s see if the Mavs are ready to play with that kind of urgency.

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