Josh Weinstein

Even though the Toronto Raptors didn’t actually play on Christmas Day, they still received holiday gifts from two of their conference rivals, the Cleveland Cavaliers and Boston Celtics. With both the Cavs and C’s losing out in their respective Christmas matchups, the Raptors moved into first place in the Eastern Conference based on win percentage. Yes, we’re only 31 games into the season, but being the number-one seed in the conference is no easy feat and reflects just how strong a start the Raptors have had. With a deep rotation and plenty of talent that works well together on the roster, don’t expect Toronto to enter a rut anytime soon, especially with an easy schedule in the coming weeks.

Toronto has a chance to extend its winning streak to a season-long seven games when they take on the Western Conference basement dwellers, the Dallas Mavericks.

Outside of Harrison Barnes, the Mavs don’t have many bright spots on their roster. Dirk Nowitzki is well past his prime while rookie Dennis Smith Jr. hasn’t quite lived up to expectations, which are just two of the many reasons why Dallas has struggled this season. Expectations weren’t high to begin with, but injuries to key rotation pieces in Seth Curry and Nerlens Noel have made matters far more challenging. Expect one of the league’s worst offences to have a challenging time keeping up with the Raptors top-three offensive attack.

Tip-off is at 7:00 PM ET. 

Projected starting lineups:

Toronto Raptors (23-8)

  • PG Kyle Lowry
  • SG DeMar DeRozan
  • SF OG Anunoby
  • PF Serge Ibaka
  • C Jonas Valanciunas

Dallas Mavericks (9-25)

  • PG Dennis Smith Jr.
  • SG Wesley Matthews
  • SF Harrison Barnes
  • PF Maxi Kleber
  • C Dirk Nowitzki