The Dallas Mavericks never envisioned their 2021-22 campaign starting out as poorly as it did in Atlanta on Thursday night, but the good news is that this is the NBA, and there's alway an opportunity for a bounce-back performance in this 82-game marathon season.
On Saturday night in Toronto, the Mavs did just that against the Raptors with a 103-95 win on the road to capture their first win of the season. For whatever reasons, the vibes in Toronto have just been off for the Mavs for the better half of a decade. This win was Dallas' first in Toronto since 2014.
After having a lackluster game by his lofty standards in the season opener, superstar Luka Doncic followed that with a very well-rounded performance against the Raptors, scoring 27 points, with nine rebounds and 12 assists.
“He found the open guy,” said coach Jason Kidd.He looked at the basket when he had an opportunity to score … I thought he had an incredible game.”
Tim Hardaway Jr. was Dallas' second-leading scorer tonight, as he poured in 25 points while shooting 7-of-11 from downtown.
Kristaps Porzingis, who performed poorly against the Hawks, also had a nice rebound game. KP scored 18 points to go with 10 rebounds, four blocks and one steal. Defensively, Porzingis made his presence felt in a big way, which is really what the Mavs need from him the most this season.
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All five Mavs' starters scored in double figures in this one.
The Mavs still didn't shoot the ball as well as they would've liked against the Raptors (42-percent), but it definitely beat the 33-percent outing that happened in Atlanta. Overall, the team looked much more comfortable with Jason Kidd at the helm tonight.
Although the Mavs got the win, we say J-Kidd should seriously consider making a change with his starting lineup. Dwight Powell ended up having a decent game overall, but starting him at center next to Porzingis is to us a recipe for Dallas continuing to get off to slow starts. Doncic needs more space to operate without multiple big bodies in the paint, and starting Porzingis at center with either Maxi Kleber or Dorian Finney-Smith at power forward would accomplish that goal.
After starting the new season with two consecutive road games, the Mavs will finally fly back to Dallas and play their season opener at American Airlines Center on Tuesday night against the I-45 rival Houston Rockets. Over the last two seasons, Dallas hasn't been able to establish a real home-court advantage. The Mavs have a home record of 41-33 and a road record of 44-30 during that span. Hopefully, Doncic and company can change that trend this season.
Need a way to help pass the time between now and Tuesday night? Catch up on the latest episodes of our Mavs Step Back Podcast: