Mavs GAMEDAY vs. Bucks: Should Dallas Rest Players?
Several of the NBA’s youthful top scorers go head-to-head on Saturday night as the Dallas Mavericks attempt to make noise in the bubble vs. the Milwaukee Bucks and reigning league MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo.
The Bucks are fresh off clinching the Eastern Conference's No. 1 seed for the second straight season. In their last outing they climbed out of a 23-point deficit vs. the Miami Heat to do so. The No. 7 seed Mavs lost to the No. 2 seed Los Angeles Clippers, 126-111, in a could-be Western Conference first-round playoff matchup.
Seth Curry (right leg soreness) has been upgraded to probable for tonight's game against the Bucks. Dorian Finney-Smith (left hip strain) is questionable.
Since the banged-up Mavs are all but locked up at No. 7 in the West, should they consider resting their talent for playoffs? We will see ...
“We’re not going to take any risks medically,” Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said. “We’re going to try to get ourselves ready to play in the playoffs, but we do want to win games here. We feel it’s real important to do that.”
Now that the Bucks are in prime position for the playoffs, will they lose focus? ... Can the Mavs develop positive momentum before postseason begins? ... Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis have shined in the “bubble” but it’ll take a group effort to get past the mighty Bucks. With Curry and Finney-Smith at less than 100 percent, Dallas’ Trey Burke must continue his surprising brilliance. ... The Bucks feature a handful of second-tier standouts behind "The Greek Freak'' in Khris Middleton (21 points per), Eric Bledsoe (15.2) and Brook Lopez (11.3). ... Dallas is struggling with its perimeter shooting. Carlisle after Friday's workout: "We did a lot of shooting today in practice. ... We've certainly got to take it very seriously, what's happening.''
The Mavericks snapped the Bucks’ 18-game win streak, which was tied for the 11 longest in NBA history, with a 120-116 victory in Milwaukee in December.
Since the NBA resumed its season in Orlando, Kristaps Porzingis is averaging 30.2 points per game, 10 rebounds per game and 2.5 assists per game. He's scored 30 or more points in five of his last nine games.
Those incredible individual stats are hard to be topped. Yet …
In the first three games in the bubble, Doncic averaged 34 points, 13.7 rebounds and 11 assists. But Luke himself is working to shrug off the attention.
READ MORE: Luka is 'Kareem-Like' In Win Over Kings
“We’re 1-3 so that’s not good,” he said. “I don’t think we should talk about individual stuff. I think we should talk about team stuff. It’s not good that we’re 1-3. We got to get ready for the playoffs.”
"I think the biggest challenge for us is ourselves," Antetokounmpo said after clinching the 1 seed. "How are we going to play? How hard are we going to play? Are we going to play for one another? Are we going to defend hard? Are we going to be able to rebound the ball? Are we going to be able to make the extra effort? Are we going to dive on the floor?”
Game Time: 7:30 p.m. CT on August 8, 2020
Location: Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando
TV/Radio: Fox Sports Southwest/ESPN, ESPN 103.3 FM, Univision 1270 AM
Records: Mavericks (41-30, 7th in the West), Bucks (55-14, 1st in the East)