After falling to the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday night the 2-14 Dallas Mavericks are searching for their elusive third win of the season against the 8-6 Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday night. The Mavs have won 8 of the last 9 meeting against the Bucks coming into tonight, but this Milwaukee team is more talented this year after acquiring Eric Bledsoe to pair with Giannis Antetokounmpo.
The month of November has not been kind to the Mavericks as they have lost 7 of their 8 games this month with their only win on November 7th against the Wizards. Unfortunately, the schedule does not lighten up until November 29th when the Mavs host the Brooklyn Nets. Between then and now the Mavs will take on the Bucks, Celtics, Grizzlies, Thunder, and the Spurs. If the Mavs cannot take care of business tonight then their four game losing streak could extend to nine before they take on the Nets.
Key Match Ups
Giannis Antetokounmpo versus Everybody: Although Giannis will be guarded by Wesley Matthews or Harrison Barnes, it is simply a treat to watch this guy play. He is listed on basketball reference as a point guard, shooting guard, small forward, and power forward at 6 feet 11 inches tall. He is currently the scoring leader in the NBA coming into tonight’s game averaging 30.6 points on 58% shooting from the field while shooting a paltry 28% from the three point line. Outside of scoring he is making hustle plays with averages of 10 rebounds, 2 blocks, and 1.5 steals per game. The Mavericks, who rank 28th in the NBA in defensive rating at 109.4 point per 100 possessions, will have their hands full trying to contain the Greak Freak.
Dennis Smith Jr. versus Eric Bledsoe: As with most rookie point guards, Dennis Smith Jr. had a down game last night. Against the Timberwolves he shot 3 for 12 from the field for 25% shooting with 8 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assist, and 3 turnovers. Although it wasn’t exactly a horrible game it was a down one for Dennis after he averaged 21 points, 5 assists, 6.5 rebounds while shooting 42% from the field over his last 4 games. The Mavericks will need to DSJ to revert back to his old ways as of late in order for them to have a chance at stopping the Greak Freak and his young team.
Since being acquired via trade from the Suns, Eric Bledsoe has begun his Bucks career averaging 13 points, 5 assists, and 5 rebounds on 37% shooting from the field and 20% from the three point line. After not playing for 2 weeks before joining the Bucks these numbers are to be expected. Compound the down time with a new system and coach and you get his current numbers which are down from his career averages. This will be the first time that DSJ will go against Eric Bledsoe in the NBA. The match up is intriguing from an athletic standpoint as both of these players are similar in terms of size, speed, and agility.
Rebounding: Coming into this game the Mavericks are 25th in the NBA in rebounds at 41 rebounds per game. This match up is a rare one for the Mavs as they are actually better at rebounding than the Bucks. Milwaukee is last in the NBA in rebounding with 38 rebounds per game. Their rebounding numbers can be attributed to the Bucks having Greg Monroe at center earlier this year. Now they are rolling with either John Henson or Thon Maker at the center position. These players are long, tall, and athletic, but do not necessarily fit the build of traditional NBA bigs who grab a bunch of rebounds for their team. If the Mavericks find themselves on the winning side of the rebounding battle then they may find themselves on the winning side of the score board.
Turnovers: The Mavs and Bucks are two of the best teams in the NBA at taking care of the ball, which is pretty remarkable for a Mavs team that is starting a rookie point guard. The two teams are actually tied for 8th in the NBA in turnovers with 14.6 per game. However, the Bucks fare better than the Mavs at defending off of their turnovers by allowing only 15.8 points, good for 9th in the NBA, compared to the Mavs 17.1, 16th in the NBA. Controlling the ball and not allowing easy points off of turnovers will be a crucial factor in this game full of young NBA talent.
The Dallas Mavericks take on the Milwaukee Bucks at 8 pm on Fox Sports Southwest.
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