Are the Toronto Raptors Similar to 2011 Dallas Mavericks?
The Toronto Raptors have had a great run so far in the NBA Playoffs. Could they be compared to the 2011 NBA Champion Dallas Mavericks?
The Toronto Raptors have drawn a lot of negative attention in the media throughout the playoffs as a team that was incredibly talented but destined to underachieve. Hearing these comments and analyses brought me back to a time when the Dallas Mavericks received very similar criticisms in the playoffs.
The Raptors are currently led by two prolific guards that can score the ball at a high rate. DeMar DeRozan has been a constant scoring threat throughout the playoffs while Kyle Lowry has struggled mightily, but finally seems to be finding his stride. So how is this team similar to the 2011 NBA Champion Dallas Mavericks?
For starters, they are carried by their stars. If Lowry and DeRozan are not playing well, the whole team struggles to find a way to win. The same was true in 2011 when Dirk Nowitzki or Jason Terry had an off night, (a very infrequent occurrence), the Mavs also struggled to find a way to win.
Although the All-Stars were the key piece on both teams, the supporting cast has been pivotal for both teams as well. In Dallas, not enough can be said about the roles of J.J. Barea, Peja Stojakovic, and, even on a smaller scale, DeShawn Stevenson.
The Raptors are getting similar production out of their supporting players, namely Bismack Biyombo, Cory Joseph, and even Patrick Patterson. These players played well during the season but have really come out to play in the playoffs.
The biggest comparison I have drawn to the two teams though is just that they each seem to find a way to keep winning. When Dallas was in the playoffs in 2011, they were the 3-seed in the West and expected to take a first round exit as was the norm for the Mavericks.
To make matters worse, the matchups never seemed to be in Dallas’ favor throughout the playoffs. Portland had a healthy Brandon Roy and an always dangerous LaMarcus Aldridge. Mavs drop two games in a row and all the analysts expect a first round bow-out. Mavs win 4-2.
The second round sees us pitted against the 2-time defending NBA Champion LA Lakers where Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum reign. Many picked an LA series victory while a few even picked a sweep for the Lakers. Mavs win it 4-0.
The Western Conference Finals sees a young but supremely athletic OKC Thunder team led by young stars Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and James Harden. Surely the Mavericks couldn’t be favored over such elite players? Mavs win 4-1.
NBA Finals series. Mavericks vs. Miami Heat and the “big three” of Lebron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh. The Cinderella story of Dallas was crashing down and no one could stop it because how could anyone beat this team? Mavs win 4-2.
Toronto has had a similar route through the playoffs, somehow finding themselves as the underdog in each series. In the first round, the Raptors had a tough run-in with a very talented Indiana Pacers team led by Paul George. A close series with a nonexistent Lowry led people to believe in a Pacers victory. Raptors win 4-3.
Next up come the Miami Heat where Dwyane Wade and Hassan Whiteside have put together a dangerous team that demands attention from any team that faces them. The lowly Raptors really had no shot but showed up to play anyways. Raptors win 4-3.
Now Toronto faces the Cleveland Cavaliers who looked untouchable 5 days ago. Almost anyone who had watched the Cavs at this point thought a sweep was in order and it would be a waiting game on who would come out of the West. Surely the Raptors wouldn’t be able to compete with this elite squad? Raptors tie it 2-2 after last night.
It is hard to imagine a scenario where the Raptors are capable of winning a title this year. With so many questions and concerns surrounding them the entire playoffs, its a wonder they are still in it. But the same thing was said about the Mavs just a few years ago.
Next: Dallas Mavericks: Revisiting the 2005 NBA Draft
I’m not predicting that the Raptors are going to win it all this year as it is still too soon to tell. But it is hard to not see the similarities of this Toronto team and the team that we all remember and love from Dallas in 2011.