The Dallas Mavericks defeated the Milwaukee Bucks in the first game of pre-season, 112-102. Every single available Maverick saw significant playing time, but Luka Doncic and Maxi Kleber ended up as the high point men with 13 each. Giannis Antetokounmpo led the Bucks in defeat with 25.
The starting line ups looked discombobulated as neither team was able to hit open shots early. Luka Doncic in particular looked slow and a bit out of sync. The bench unit for Dallas established some consistency through defensive energy. The Mavericks shot a terrible 6 for 28 in the opening frame yet somehow only trailed 19-21 after twelve minutes.
Things heated up for both teams in second frame, with both Luka Doncic and Giannis Antetokounmpo looking like All-NBA talents they are. The Mavericks took a lead for a significant portion of the frame but late turnovers and sloppy transition defense allowed the Bucks to work back into the game and take a 59-53 lead into the half.
Dallas coach Rick Carlisle elected to sit his starters in the second half, which worked well as the bench unit took it to a sleepy Bucks team. The Mavericks played the second unit for most of the frame before subbing in the third unit with a few minutes remaining. Nate Hinton and Boban Marjanovic helped pour it on for Dallas and the Mavericks took a 91-74 lead into the fourth.
Every single Maverick eventually saw time and the fourth quarter turned out to be a display for rookie two-way guard Nate Hinton (8 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists, and steal). The Bucks attempted a rally but were so far down it fell short. The Mavericks start the pre-season 1-0 after a 112-102 victory.
Now, some things
Apparently, Dwight Powell tore his Achilles last year
In his first NBA action since January 20th, Dwight Powell looked much the same player we saw when he went down with a torn Achilles. Though it’s obviously early, he brought all the same things from previous seasons: energy, timing, and nice looking athleticism. We didn’t see any outstanding dunks, but the Bucks have been a great defense for years and sat on a lot of pick and roll chances for Dallas.
It’s good to see Powell playing basketball.
The Dallas depth looks real
It was the bench unit that brought the Mavericks alive in the first quarter. With the starters playing just 16 minutes, the rest of Dallas looked tantalizing. Jalen Brunson looked excellent himself, coming off an injury. Rookie Josh Green looked like an NBA player and more important, looked comfortable among the world’s best. Trey Burke continued his run from Orlando where he appeared to be a Rick Carlisle All-Star. Willie Cauley-Stein looked spry and effective. Nate Hinton did the thing he does: a little bit of everything. Tyler Bey could be party pterodactyl. Heck even Tyrell Terry took a charge.
Everyone played hard. In what’s to be a grind of a regular season, playing hard makes up for a lot, night in and out. Again, it’s 48 minutes of game tape, but seeing players who look excited to play as well as effective and it’s easy to get pumped about this coming season.
That was really fun. I wouldn’t have guessed I’d be hyped over a pre-season game!
Luka Doncic and Josh Richardson are going to work well together
16 minutes isn’t much to judge, but if you were able to watch the game, things just felt right there. Richardson defends well and moves on offense and seems to be able to handle enough to make things difficult for opposing defenses. The Mavericks are likely to miss Seth Curry at times this season, but the starting back court in Dallas (assuming you consider Tim Hardaway the small forward in the line up) is more complete than what the Mavericks had to work with last season.
Once Luka Doncic joined the game in the second quarter (he sleep-walked in the opening minutes) he played like the NBA MVP candidate we know he is. It’s just one game, but all is well in Dallas at the moment.