DALLAS, TX–Coming off a thrilling, 97-95 victory over the LA Clippers on Thursday night, the Dallas Mavericks (31-40) welcome the Toronto Raptors (43-29) to the American Airlines Center.
With just 11 games remaining in the 2016-17 NBA regular season, an optimistic Mavericks team find themselves 3.5 games behind the Denver Nuggets for the eighth and final seed.
Having lost six of the last eight meetings between the two clubs, Dallas will have their hands full once again on Saturday night against a Raptors team currently on a four-game winning streak lead by Eastern Conference All-Star DeMar DeRozan.
“He’s a guy who can seduce you with pump-fakes, and he’s going to make his share of difficult shots,” Mavs head coach Rick Carlisle said. “Those difficult twos, when you’re in the position to contest, we’ll have to live with those. The others, drives and and-ones, we have to limit those.”
DeRozan, the NBA’s fifth-leading scorer, is averaging 41.0 points in his last two games. DeRozan dropped 25 points in the Raptors 22-point victory over the Mavs on March 13.
Meanwhile, the Mavs hope to build on Thursday’s critical victory, having won seven of their last 11 ballgames, including seven of their last nine at home.
The Mavs will again likely trot out a starting line-up that saw newly aquired big man Nerlens Noel get the start at center with rookie guard Yogi Ferrell shifting to the bench. Just moments for Thursday’s game, Ferrell received his Rookie of the Month award in front of media members. The Mavs line-up change allowed Seth Curry to thrive with 23 points as the team’s starting point guard while Noel added 8 points and 12 rebounds.
“We’re going to give this a look. I don’t know how many games it’s going to be. It may be the rest of the year, it may not. It may be a couple, we’ll see,” Carlisle told reporters. “There’s a certain aptitude and understanding of the game that goes with being a point guard. He’s demonstrated those abilities on a lot of occasions, but until we put the ball in his hands and really take a look at it, we’re not going to know for sure. Now is the time to do it.”