Mavs Preseason Debut: Who's the Real Freak? Giannis or Luka?

Dallas Mavericks vs. Milwaukee Bucks GAMEDAYpreview, injury updates, stream and radio details - and an eye on 'Who is the real Freak?'
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After a 104-day break since their last game, the Dallas Mavericks will again take the court. The Mavs look to build on an exciting 2019-20 season that culminated in advancing to the first round of the playoffs for the first time since 2016. 

The Mavs travel to Milwaukee for their first two of three preseason games to face reigning two-time NBA Most Valuable Player Giannis Antetokounmpo and the respected Bucks. 

TWO-TIME REIGNING MVP VS. MVP-FAVORITE

Mavs star Luka Doncic is the favorite to end the Greek Freak’s two-year reign as MVP.  Doncic has the best odds to bring home the trophy, edging out Antetokounmpo. 

Only three players have won the NBA MVP award in three straight years: Bill Russell (1961-63), Wilt Chamberlain (1966-68) and Larry Bird (1984-86). Doncic could end Antetokounmpo's chance to become the fourth ... And make some history of his own.

Derrick Rose holds the record for youngest MVP in league history when he won at age 22. Doncic is currently 21, with a birthday in February. 

[READ: Luka Named Top-5 Player ESPN Rankings]

[READ: 'High Expectations'? NBA Won't Test For Pot]

Last season, Doncic led the league with 17 triple-doubles, while averaging 28.8 points, 9.4 rebounds and 8.8 assists. Doncic's playoff series debut was a doozy ... Anybody else still have flashback of his winning step-back 3-pointer over the Los Angeles Clippers in Game 4?

COINCIDENCE?

During the NBA offseason, there were whispers that Dallas was/will be a player in the  Antetokounmpo sweepstakes... the most coveted 2021 free agent (unless he signs his supermax deal before the December 21 deadline). Is it a coincidence that Doncic and the Mavs get a chance to visit with Antetokounmpo, amid all the rumors? You tell me. 

FLASHBACK

Dallas finished last season with a 43-32 record and losing (but gaining valuable postseason experience) to the Los Angeles Clippers in six games in the first round of the playoffs.

And before those playoffs began, the Mavs and Bucks played one of the most entertaining games of the NBA ‘Bubble’, as Dallas beat Milwaukee in a 136-132 overtime thriller. Doncic finished that one with 36 points, 14 rebounds and a career-high 19 assists, with the most impressive one being a between-the-legs pass from Doncic to Maxi Kleber with barely a minute remaining in overtime.

INJURY UPDATE

Both Dwight Powell and Jalen Brunson are back and healthy. 

Dallas lost Powell in a season-ending injury when he ruptured his right Achilles on Jan. 21. Dallas lost Brunson in late February when he sustained a torn labrum in his right shoulder.

Kristaps Porzingis' rehab is going smoothly. The Mavs believe Porzingis' knee will be fully healthy in January; for now he's doing "light shooting'' at practice.

ADJUSTING TO COVID

The COVID-19 pandemic eliminated the usual pre-Draft scouting and summer-league play. Training camp is shortened and the preseason is just three games. The regular season is just 72 games, 10 fewer than normal.

FUN FACT

Newly-acquired Mav James Johnson has earned a black belt. Johnson owns a perfect 20-0 record in his kick-boxing matches, including a perfect 7-0 in mixed martial arts (MMA) matches. His parents and eight siblings also have black belts.

Meanwhile, of course, J.J. Barea was released this week by Dallas and Courtney Lee was signed. Dallas has 20 players on the roster right now; Coach Rick Carlisle has yet to reveal specific plans for Saturday night playing time.

WHEN: Saturday, Dec 12, 2020 at 7 p.m. CT

LOCATION: Fiserv Forum, Milwaukee, WI

TV/RADIO: Streamed on Mavs.com, ESPN 103.3 Radio

THE FINAL WORD

“The schedule is what it is. We’ve got to take it and turn it into as many positives as we can. We do have quite a few guys back from last year, which helps from a continuity standpoint. But the new guys are catching up quickly.” - Coach Rick Carlisle