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Mavs vs. Raptors Preview: Dallas tries to keep rolling

The Mavs have gotten off to a surprising 3-1 start without Dirk Nowitzki and they can continue padding their win total with a game against a young Toronto team on Wednesday.

Matthew Emmons-US PRESSWIRE

Even the biggest Mavs optimist would have been hard-pressed to predict a 3-1 start to the season without their best player, but that's where Dallas stands headed into Wednesday's game with the Raptors.

Under former Mavs assistant Dwyane Casey, the architect of the team's defense during their run to the 2011 title, Toronto is slowly returning to the ranks of respectability, but they still present a golden chance to bank another win early in the season.

The Raptors are playing their fourth game in five nights and are coming off a 108-88 beating at the hands of the Thunder on Tuesday night.

The road won't get any easier on Wednesday, as they'll be playing without new PG Kyle Lowry, who played only 17 minutes in Oklahoma City before suffering an ankle injury. Without Lowry, none of Toronto's other players can consistently create their own shot, as their 35.7% field goal percentage against the Thunder attests.

If Dallas can force Andrea Bargnani and DeMar DeRozan to take contested jumpers, they should be able to get out and run in transition, where they've been deadly this season.

The loss of Shawn Marion, whose out at least a week, will make that more difficult, as the veteran SF is usually given the toughest defensive assignment on the perimeter.

That could mean a big night for Vince Carter, who will be playing his first NBA team and has a checkered relationship, to say the last, with Raptors fans.

The line for the game, which tips off at 7:30 Central on Fox Sports Southwest, is currently -7, which seems about right, although the injuries to Marion and Lowry make predicting the flow of the game somewhat difficult.

Photographs by jamesbrandon, jdtornow, phlezk, flygraphix, mcdlttx, tomasland, and literalbarrage used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.