The Dallas Mavericks will be short handed tonight when they host the Toronto Raptors. Both Shawn Marion and Elton Brand will not be in uniform. Brand will miss tonight’s game due to the birth of his child and Marion will not be playing tonight because of sprained MCL in his left knee.
Of course, Dirk Nowitzki, is still out as well, so the Mavs will need the other guys to step up tonight. This actually will be a good thing for coach Rick Carlisle. This will give him a chance to see what the guys from the bench can actually bring to this team.
Expect Carlisle to put Chris Kaman and Jae Crowder in the starting line-up with O.J. Mayo, Darren Collison and Brandan Wright. Kaman, in the last two games, has been great on the offensive end scoring 16 points in each of the games. I expect him to get a lot of touches down in the paint and putting him in the starting line-up now may be a permanent role for him later on in the season.
As for Crowder, I expect him to have a breakout game. If not today, then it will happen in the next few games, since Marion is out for at least a week. This is the best chance for Crowder to show the coaching staff what he is really made of. Coming off the bench in these first four games he has averaged 8.8 points and 2.8 rebound per game. That also includes a three-point field goal percentage of 46.7.
This is also a great chance for the other two rookies, Jared Cunningham and Bernard James to step up and show what they are about. However, since James is a center and Cunningham is a guard, it’s more likely that James will have more minutes than Cunningham.
There is not much to describe either of the two since they have not played much in these four games, but with Brand out tonight it’s a good chance for fans to finally see what James is capable of doing. This will be a game that will give him more minutes later on or a game that keeps him on the bench throughout this season.
Although, with Brand and Marion out for tonight’s game it may not mean much. Both Collison and Mayo have been pretty much unstoppable in these four games (excluding the one they lost).
Mayo had back-to-back 30 point games in the last two wins. Collison, on the other hand, had back-to-back double-doubles in the same games. I believe that playing against a team that they are suppose to beat that Collison and Mayo will continue that trend.
If Mayo continues to be an unstoppable scoring machine tonight against Toronto then the Mavs should still walk away with a convincing win. The same goes for Collison. If he keeps dishing the ball to any open shooter then he should yet again have another double-double night.
It does seems like that the Mavs have not really missed Nowitzki much during these first four games, and if they continue to play as they have been then they may not need him to rush back. If the Mavs win in a convincing fashion tonight then the Mavs Nation may see what this team is really made of and what to expect throughout this long NBA season.