The Toronto Raptors extend their winning streak to three, with a blowout victory against the Dallas Mavericks.
The Toronto Raptors are back to their winning ways, after defeating the Dallas Mavericks on Monday night. From beginning to end, the Raptors had their most impressive victory on this young NBA season. The light at the end of the tunnel continues to get brighter for the team from the north, as they look to bounce back from a disappointing start. Here are some key takeaways from the Raptors’ win against the Mavericks.
#1: Raptors defense of old was on display
The Toronto Raptors have taken pride in their defense over the past few seasons. From the era of ‘pound the rock’ to the elaborate box-and-one, the defense has been Toronto’s bread and butter. One major storyline that developed from Monday night’s Raptors’ game, was that Toronto is still capable of playing amazing defense.
Coming into this game it was evident that the Raptors would have their hands full with Luka Doncic. However, the young star had one of his worst games of the season finishing with 15 points on 36 percent shooting. Whether it was team defense, straight man-to-man, Toronto made Doncic very uncomfortable throughout the duration of the game.
Toronto held the Mavericks to only 38 percent shooting from the field, and 25 percent from beyond-the-arc. All the attention might go towards how the Raptors were able to defend Doncic, but another big contribution to Toronto walking away with the victory was the way they were able to guard Tim Hardaway Jr. The 28-year-old small forward, was scoreless as he shot 0-12 from the field. Playing with such a fierce intensity as the Raptors did, will definitely be the key to continuing with the recent results of the last three games.
#2: Whether Boucher comes off the bench or starts, he’s becoming one of the best players on the Raptors
This is Chris Boucher’s fourth straight 20 point game, and he doesn’t look like he’ll be slowing down anytime soon. Regardless if he starts or not, Boucher has accepted his role and has performed extremely well.
Boucher is arguably having one of the biggest jumps in the NBA. He’s in the running for the Most Improved Player and the Defensive Player of the Year award. Most importantly, he has been playing amazing basketball for the Raptors, on both ends of the court.
Boucher is doing all of this while shooting 66 percent from the field in his last 4 outings. With the Raptors dealing with the adjustment period of not having Serge Ibaka around, Boucher has done a great job of fulfilling that void. Especially in a game matched up against a perennial All-Star in Kristaps Porzingis.
Chris Boucher continues to exceed expectations and it’s an amazing thing to see. Once consistency begins to develop throughout the rest of the team, the Raptors can be a dangerous matchup later on in the season.
#3: Aron Baynes needs to step up
Coming into this season, Kyle Lowry vocalized how he hopes that he can help Aron Baynes, “have the best season of his career.” 12 games into the season, it hasn’t gone the way the Raptors have hoped it would.
Baynes is having arguably the worst season of his career. The 6-foot-10 center is shooting an abysmal 37 percent from the field, and an atrocious 16 percent from three. One of the main aspects of Baynes’ game that had Raptor fans excited was his ability to occasionally knock down the three. However, Baynes just looks so stiff and unsettling on offense.
Although he remains as a starter, the majority of his minutes have been given to Chris Boucher, which is due to the poor play of Baynes. The starting center for the Raptors was only able to grab one rebound on Monday night. It is unacceptable for a starting center to only grab one rebound. Kyle Lowry who is 6-foot is averaging more rebounds with 6 rebounds per game compared to Baynes’ 4.9 rebounds.
It’s unclear if it is smart to count on Baynes turning things around anytime soon. But Toronto needs more from their center position, whether that’s from the players they have now, or acquiring talent from elsewhere.