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3 observations after the Dallas Mavericks fell to the Milwaukee Bucks, 124-115

A brutal losing streak has the Mavericks under .500

NBA: Dallas Mavericks at Milwaukee Bucks Michael McLoone-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Mavericks fell on the road Sunday night to the Milwaukee Bucks, 124-115. Giannis Antetokounmpo dominated for the Bucks, scoring 30 points and grabbing 11 rebounds. Luka Doncic scored 27 and dished out 12 assists in defeat. The Mavericks have now lost four straight.

Dallas opened the game with a slightly shifted starting line up, with Tim Hardaway Jr. replacing a resting Reggie Bullock. The Mavericks opened the game sloppy, with several unforced turnovers which turned into easy points for the Bucks. With no defensive presence at the rim, the Mavericks gave up 30 points in the opening six minutes of action. But both Antetokounmpo and Brook Lopez picking up two fouls each the Mavericks had an opening and took advantage, pulling back from down 14 to down five. However, Grayson Allen’s fourth three pointer of the quarter gave Milwaukee a 41-33 lead after twelve minutes of action.

Spencer Dinwiddie and Christian Wood led the charge in the second quarter to pull Dallas within four twice in the opening part of the quarter. The Bucks responded, following a mid quarter timeout, and couldn’t be stopped from anywhere. Milwaukee rebuilt their largest lead of the game of 14 within a few possessions. The Mavericks couldn’t make much of a dent in the lead and found themselves trailing 73-62. Each team shot a scorching 58% from the floor during the half.

Opting to open the second half with Wood over Dwight Powell, Dallas made a strong run to cut into the Milwaukee lead despite forceful offense from Antetokounmpo. The Mavericks whittled the lead down to one, but the Bucks responded with a 7-0 run resulting in a Dallas timeout. Dallas found a way to whittle into the lead again, this time on a 5-0 Josh Green run, which pulled the Mavericks within six with 2:30 left in the half. Despite cutting the lead to four with a minute to go, Dallas found themselves down 104-96 entering the final frame.

The Bucks started the fourth with a 9-1 run, resulting in a Dallas timeout. Milwaukee grew the lead to as many as 19, but the Mavericks wouldn’t go quietly, cutting the lead to 12 by the halfway point in the frame. But Dallas didn’t have the stops in them. Jason Kidd eventually pulled the plug and the losing streak extends to four games. Dallas falls in Milwaukee, 124-115.

Now, some thoughts

It’s hard to beat really good NBA teams if they shoot well from distance

It’s true that during this four game losing streak the Mavericks have had two very inexplicable losses to the Raptors and the Nuggets. In both of those losses, Dallas got out worked in real ways.

But against the Bucks and Celtics, arguably two of the best teams in the league, they got torched from beyond the arc. Boston hit 17-of-34 attempts whereas the Bucks shot 17-of-37. Even if everything else is clicking (and to be clear, this was not the case for Dallas in either game), it’s really hard to win when a team gives up that kind of shooting.

Free throws, free throws, free throws

The Mavericks shot 16-of-25 from the charity stripe. They lost the game by nine points. Free throws were not why Dallas lost game, but that they’re missing so many certainly isn’t helping things.

The Mavericks, prior to this game, are 25th in the league in free throw percentage, hitting 73.8% of their attempts. Considering the Mavericks take an average of 25.4 attempts per game, good for fourth best in the league, this is simply unacceptable. Doncic bears the brunt of this; after starting the season well, he’s sank back to near his career average. Christian Wood is also really frustratingly poor from the line. They have to improve, as it’s one factor that’s costing them basketball games.

The Tim Hardaway Jr. experiment has to come to an end

Despite getting a bump into the starting line up, Tim Hardaway Jr.’s basketball woes continued. Though he shot a respectable 2-of-6 from three, he’s now 35-of-119 (29%) on the year and just 127-of-423 (32%) in the Jason Kidd era. It seems that his two years of shooting with former Dallas coach Rick Carlisle were outlier years.

It’s unfortunate too, as he’s now become pretty unplayable; if he’s not hitting shots, he’s also very bad at defense, so there’s just not a clear reason to play him. Josh Green should take more of Tim’s minutes until he can hit anything.

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