After beating Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks in their preseason opener on Saturday, the Dallas Mavericks made it an encore performance by beating the Bucks again on Monday, 128-112, to move to 2-0 in preseason play.
After going into halftime with a 69-59 deficit, superstar Luka Doncic and the rest of the Mavs' starters came out in the third quarter and outscored the Bucks 36-24, never looking back. Doncic worked his usual magic, putting up 27 points, eight rebounds, and four assists in 29 minutes of play through three quarters while later having some fun with questions about his weight.
"People on Twitter say every stuff,'' Doncic said with a smile. “But, it’s true I’m not in my best shape. I will get there for sure. But, you know, I’ve never been a muscular guy, so what can I say?”
Meanwhile, newcomer Josh Richardson was most impressive on this night, as he continues to fit in perfectly with the rest of the Mavs' starters.
“People can say what they want about my year in Philly," said Richardson. "But that was a tough situation for me. I think I fit well here. ... I think I bring leadership, I think I bring toughness, I think I bring some intangibles to this team. And I can hit shots."
"From a camaraderie standpoint, these guys are probably the best of the best," said Richardson of the Mavs' early chemistry.
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After scoring 9 points and shooting 3-of-4 from deep in his Maverick debut, Richardson exploded for 23 points and seven rebounds in 29 minutes, shooting 7-of-10 from the field overall and a sizzling 5-of-6 from beyond the arc. After having a down year on a Philadelphia 76ers team that had very little spacing last season, Richardson is showing why many expect him to have a resurgent year in Dallas.
After just a 2-of-9 shooting night in the Mavs' first preseason game, Tim Hardaway Jr. was able to find the bottom of the net a little more in this one, to the tune of 17 points on 3-of-7 shooting from deep. Hardaway Jr. has also looked delightfully aggressive on the defensive end of the court this preseason, which is a welcomed sign for a team looking to be much better defensively overall than they were last season.
One of the underrated parts of this preseason game was the play of versatile Mavs' big man Willie Cauley-Stein. Cauley-Stein didn't play until the start of the fourth quarter when the Mavs only had a two-point lead. In just eight minutes of play, Cauley-Stein scored eight points on a perfect 3-of-3 shooting, including two threes that were nothing but net.
The Mavs might be content with starting Dwight Powell at center while Kristaps Porzingis is out, but it can be argued that Cauley-Stein should get a shot in that starting center role.
Another bright spot through two preseason games has been the play of rookie small forward Josh Green. Green finished this game with 10 points on 4-of-7 shooting from the field and 2-of-4 from deep, but his most impressive attribute has been his tenacity on both ends of the court.
Green, who was known as a player with a very high motor coming out of Arizona, always brings the energy and never stops moving when he's on the court. It's early, but it looked like the Mavs did very well with their No. 18 pick in this year's draft.
"He's progressing and he's aggressive," said coach Rick Carlisle. "He keeps a lot of risk out of the game. ... It was good to see Green knock in a couple of three-point shots."
The Mavs will now fly back to Dallas, as they'll wrap up the preseason against the Minnesota Timberwolves at American Airlines Center on Thursday night.