Preview: Jalen Brunson returns as Mavs battle Toronto Raptors in Tampa, Fla.



Mavericks (6-6) at Toronto Raptors (4-8)

Time: 6:30 p.m., Monday

Place: Amalie Arena, Tampa, Fla.


Radio: ESPN 103.3 FM; Univision 1270 AM (Spanish)

About the Mavericks: The Mavs are in a stretch where they’re playing seven games in five days and in four different cities. And this is the second game of that very brutal and very challenging stretch. “This is the most challenging week of the schedule this season,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “It’s five games in seven days — six in nine if you want to do the math going back to (last Friday’s game against) Milwaukee. We’re very busy, we’re very depleted. We’re just going to have to be really tied together and really have to communicate well with each other and find a way to win.”. .Dorian Finney-Smith, Josh Richardson, Maxi Kleber and Dwight Powell won’t play tonight due to health and safety protocols. Jalen Brunson, who has missed the last four games because of health and safety protocols, will play tonight, according to Carlisle. . .Tim Hardaway Jr. is questionable with a left groin strain. It’s the same injury that forced him to miss Sunday’s game against the Chicago Bulls. . .This is the second leg of a back-to-back for the Mavs, who lost at home on Sunday to the Bulls, 117-101. . .The Mavs are 1-0 on the second end of a back-to-back. The Mavs also lost to the Bulls – in Chicago – on the front leg of a back-to-back on Jan. 3. And on the second leg of the back-to-back the next day, the Mavs went to Houston and defeated the Rockets, 113-100. . .Superstar point guard Luka Doncic has settled into a terrific groove lately. The third-year veteran has four triple-doubles in his last six games and has 29 during his sterling career – one more than the incomparable Michael Jordan. Doncic collected 36 points, 16 rebounds and 15 assists during Sunday’s loss to the Bulls. . .In his third game since returning from Oct. 9 right knee surgery, Kristaps Porzingis contributed 20 points, eight rebounds and two blocks in Sunday’s contest against Chicago.

About the Raptors: Two years after winning their lone NBA championship, the Raptors are sitting in the 13th spot in the 15-team Eastern Conference. Thus, they’ve fallen on hard times lately. However, Toronto has won its past two games after losing five of its previous six games. . .Chris Boucher came off the bench to pour in 25 points and grab 10 rebounds as the Raptors edged the Charlotte Hornets, 111-108, last Thursday. And on this past Saturday, Norman Powell came off the bench and tallied 24 points to lead the Raptors to a 116-113 triumph over the Hornets, while Boucher came off the bench to tally 20 points, snatch nine boards and block two shots. . .The Raptors are led by mainstays Fred VanVleet (20.1 ppg, 6.3 apg), Pascal Siakam (18.9 ppg, 8.3 rpg) and Kyle Lowry (18.7 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 7.1 apg). Siakam leads Toronto with four double-doubles, and also has one triple-double. . .Elsewhere for the Raptors, Boucher averages 15.7 ppg and 6.8 rpg, OG Anunoby is averaging 13.1 ppg and 5.3 rpg, and Powell averages 11.7 ppg in just 23.1 mpg. . .The Raptors are averaging 111.5 ppg and are allowing 112.2 ppg. . .Toronto is probably at the biggest disadvantage of any of the 30 NBA teams this season. The Raptors will be away from their families this entire season because they have moved to Tampa, Fla., where they’re playing all of their home games. Why? Because the Canadian government denied an exemption for NBA teams to travel north of the border without a 14-day quarantine. . .The last time the Raptors played the Mavs was Dec. 22, 2019 in Toronto. The Mavs had all systems rolling and eventually built a 85-55 lead with 2:32 remaining in the third quarter. But the Raptors rallied and prevailed, 110-107, behind 20 fourth-quarter points from Lowry. Luka Doncic missed that game with a sprained right ankle.

Twitter: @DwainPrice