After the Dallas Mavericks saw yet another double-digit second half lead vanish against the Celtics on Wednesday night, resulting in a 97-90 loss, they’ll hope previous trends continue when it comes to the Milwaukee Bucks. The last time these two teams met, the Mavs unleashed a franchise record-tying barrage of three-pointers (19) on the Bucks and cruised to a 30-point blowout win.
That was a magical night for sure — but it would be unfair to expect the Mavs to put up that kind of performance again, especially with the game being played in Milwaukee this time around. Plus, the Bucks have been playing really good basketball lately, having won 5 of their last 7 contests.
Here’s 3 things to watch for in this game.
Dennis Smith Jr.’s vs. the Bucks’ length
Last time around, even though the Mavs had no problems running the Bucks off the floor, Smith Jr. didn’t necessarily have his best game as a rookie. He ended the night with 5 points, on only 2-of-8 shooting from the field, to go along with 4 rebounds and 2 assists in 22 minutes of play. The Bucks’ overwhelming length really bothered Smith Jr., as he had four turnovers and also had his shot blocked a couple of times.
Bucks’ point guard, Eric Bledsoe is only 6’1”, but he’s built stout and his wingspan is 7-feet can really give his opponents some problems. Tonight, we’ll see if Smith Jr. learned any lessons from the first time he played this team. It’d be nice to see the rook try to create a lot more contact in this game and get to the free throw line some more. That being said though, the refs would need to show him some respect for that strategy to be effective.
Wesley Matthews three-point shooting
Wes scored a season-high 22 points and dished out 8 assists in that blowout win a few weeks ago. He also hit 6-of-8 from deep, including this prayer that was answered.
If shots like that are falling, you know it’s probably going to be a good night.
So far this season, Matthews is shooting a little over 40-percent from beyond the arc, which is a couple percentage points higher than his career average. Before this season started, I predicted that this season would be Matthews’ best as a Maverick, to which he responded, “I won’t make you a liar.” Right now, it looks like he’s a man of his word.
The bench must show up in a big way
In their recent loss to the Celtics, the Mavs bench only scored a combined 23 points. For a team that needs pretty much everything to go right in order to win a game, that’s just not going to cut it. In the previous meeting with the Bucks, the Mavs’ bench scored 54 points, led by J.J. Barea, who finished with 20 points (4-of-7 from deep) and 7 assists in only 23 minutes. Big bench contributions like that could be what determines the outcome of the game this time around. I don’t expect to see a 30-point thrashing this time around, but I think the Mavs will be able to give themselves a fighting chance.
How to Watch
The Mavericks and Bucks will tipoff at 7:00 p.m. central time and can be watched on FSSW and NBA League Pass.