Since acquiring Shawn Marion, the Raptors have been playing some pretty good ball on the offensive end. We have seen the Raptors play a more uptempo pace and they have shown a little bit more heart, something that has been sorely lacking throughout the season. Coming off of a loss to the Suns, where they were competitive for a good part of the game before the wheels fell off, you have to wonder what things might have been like had Marion been in the mix earlier in the year. Maybe they would have still had some of the same problems, but from what I have seen so far, they look like a more competitive team.
So now this “more competitive team” has to walk into Dallas and try to come out with a win. This isn’t as daunting of a task as it has been in past years, although it isn’t going to be a cakewalk. It is going to be extremely important for the Raptors to focus on the defensive end, not only because with this new running style, they have made themselves more vulnerable, but also because they have blown two 24 point leads to the Mavs in the past. If the Raptors are able to get up against the Mavs, they might have to try to slow the game down a bit to tighten things up, providing the Mavs with less chances for their stars to shine.
It will also be important for the Raptors to make sure they take the positives out of the game against the Suns and transfer them to the game against the Mavs. The Raptors were right in that Suns game, but as Marion said, somewhere along the line, they just lot the heart to win it. They will have to look at all of the things they did well in that game, such as sharing the ball, taking good shots and pushing the ball up the court when the opportunity was there. The Mavs don’t have a guy like Shaq (nobody does) who is just going to lean on them and wear them down, so they shouldn’t be worrying about the colossal night he had, instead thinking that if he had played a normal game, more in line with what he does now, they might have been able to pull that game out. Forget the fact that Nash wasn’t in the lineup, you have to take your positives where you can get them.
I don’t make predictions very often, but I really think this is one the Raptors can take. If they are able to concentrate on playing a solidÂ 48 minutes, let’s look for a win here.
3 in the Key
1. As I just said, a fullÂ 48 minutes is needed from everybody.
2. Keep running.
3. Focus on playing a solid defensive game. Two way game!