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2 thoughts after the Dallas Mavericks suffer an inexcusable loss to the Milwaukee Bucks, 106-105

A heartbreaking loss that was entirely avoidable

NBA: Milwaukee Bucks at Dallas Mavericks Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Mavericks found a new, horrendous way to lose, falling to the Milwaukee Bucks at home Friday night, losing 106-105. Giannis Antetokounmpo led the Bucks with 28 points after shaking off a rough start. Luka Doncic led the Mavericks in defeat with 33. The Mavericks shot an atrocious 10 of 24 from the free throw line, including a mindbogglingly awful 7 of 15 in the fourth quarter.

The two teams exchanged leads early, with the Mavericks bombing from beyond the arc and the Bucks attacking the paint relentlessly. After the Bucks took an 11-10 lead off a Grayson Allen and-one, the Mavericks rattled off an 8-0 run forcing a Milwaukee timeout. The Bucks responded with a 7-0 run of their own. Offense continued to be the order of the day, with Luka Doncic scoring 16 in the quarter and Milwaukee answering right back. Dallas led 33-32 at the end of the first quarter.

With Luka Doncic getting his usual second quarter rest, the Mavericks opened the quarter holding Milwaukee to repeated misses. Spencer Dinwiddie and Christian Wood helped Dallas win the non-Doncic minutes. But when Doncic returned, the Dallas offense dried up with Milwaukee stopping repeated Dallas forays at the rim and the Mavericks bricking numerous open looks. Milwaukee closed the quarter on a long 12-3 run, which resulted in them taking a 52-48 lead into the half.

The second half started with an exchange of runs, first by the Mavericks, then right back by the Bucks. Dallas inched ahead through the sheer brilliance of Doncic, but the Bucks kept coming. A Maxi Kleber tip shot, a fast break Luka dunk over Jrue Holiday, and a Christian Wood three and like that the Mavericks were up 12, forcing a Bucks timeout. Though Milwaukee once again had an answer for Dallas, the Mavericks pushed hard to close out the quarter and led 84-73 heading into the final period.

Once again the Mavericks went with a mixed unit to start the fourth, with Doncic on the bench. Antetokounmpo started the quarter having just hit 5 of 14 shots but started finding the bottom of the basket. Fortunately for Dallas, the combination of Dinwiddie and Wood kept the Dallas offense humming for a time, but a couple of bad possessions resulted in the Bucks quickly tying the game with seven minute remaining. The teams traded baskets until Giannis picked up his sixth foul contested a Tim Hardaway three with 2:55 left in the game. One would think Dallas would’ve taken the game, but a parade of missed free throws from every single Maverick player who got fouled resulted in a truly heartbreaking loss. The Dallas win streak stops at three, falling to the Bucks at home, 106-105.

Now, only one more thought.

Hit. Your. Free. Throws.

This was a really fun game. It should’ve been a huge, season defining victory over a fantastic, championship caliber Bucks team. I’d like to talk about the hustle plays of Dwight Powell, the threes made by Maxi Kleber, the dunks from Spencer Dinwiddie. But that’s the sort of thing you get to talk about in a victory.

Instead, we have to talk about the Maverick free throw woes, which were the entire reason they lost this game. In the fourth quarter alone we witnessed the following misses:

  • 6:34 - Spencer Dinwiddie misses the second of two after getting fouled on drive
  • 5:21 - Luka Doncic misses the second of two after getting fouled on a drive
  • 3:41 - Dwight Powell misses the second of two after getting fouled on an oop attempt
  • 2:55 - Tim Hardaway misses ALL THREE after getting fouled by Giannis
  • 10 seconds - Dorian Finney Smith misses both after loose ball foul

Dallas lost by one. As a team they missed 14 free throws throughout the game! This is beyond ridiculous. Just look at this garbage:

It starts and ends with Luka, of course, as he missed six free throws tonight. But Hardaway’s now missed five straight fourth quarter free throws. They’re still fourth in the league in per game attempts and 27th in the league in percentage. That’s unacceptable. Do better.

What kind of defense is this?

What is Luka Doncic doing? Why did the coaching staff tell him to stand there? Why wouldn’t the Bucks get something going at the rim? What on Earth is going on?

What’s upsetting is we won’t get an explanation for this. No one in the media will ask about this final play or what Dallas was thinking. The free throws were the reason the Mavericks lost, but when you see this kind of play drawn up compared to the typical garbage can play design Dallas uses to get Luka a final shot, I want to scream into the void.

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