Start time: 8:30 PM ET
Channel: TSN
Probable starting lineups
Toronto: Jose Calderon, DeMar DeRozan, Rasual Butler, Andrea Bargnani, Amir Johnson
Dallas: Jason Kidd, Delonte West, Shawn Marion, Dirk Nowitzki, Brendan Haywood

Injury report

Toronto: Aaron Gray is back on the shelf with ongoing heart issues.

Dallas: No injuries to report.

The Mavericks are just the second NBA defending champs to start the following season 0-3 — the 1969-70 Celtics started their season 0-4 after winning the 1969 championship, and that was because Bill Russell had retired. The Mavericks probably should have won last night, but Kevin Durant did what we know he can do. I will be very, very surprised if the Mavs don’t come out tonight in Dallas and lay a royal smackdown on a helpless Raptors squad. Dallas lost their first four games in the 2006-07 season and still went on to win 67 games, so let’s not bury them just yet.

The DeRozan-vs.-Carter matchup should be entertaining, as always, but Carter’s only averaging 19 minutes per game so far (at a putrid PER of 8.7) so that’s really not much of a matchup anymore. Then again, if you watched last night’s Mavs game, you know that Vince is still capable of firing the occasional dagger.

If Dwane Casey is feeling adventurous tonight, it would be fun to see how James Johnson can handle guarding Dirk Nowitzki. I mean, better him than Bargnani, right? Jason Terry is the only other Maverick averaging double-figures in point, so if the Raptors want to pull off an unlikely upset here, that might be their best strategy.

Random thoughts…

  • Did you catch the end of Mavs-Thunder last night? If so, how did you react when Carter put the Mavs up by a point with 1.2 seconds to go? I laughed my ass off because I can’t bother to be mad at him anymore and it’s amusing to me that he’s still capable of hitting shots like that. Of course, Durant’s follow-up game-winner was that much more enjoyable because of what preceded it.
  • Are you going out to a New Year’s party tomorrow night? I think I’m probably staying home, although I did get this intriguing invitation:

Patton Oswalt has been getting some Oscar buzz recently for his performance alongside Charlize Theron in Young Adult, but I’ve known him for years as one of the funniest stand-ups around. Here’s his legendary routine on KFC’s Famous Bowls.

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