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Bucks 97 Mavericks 95: Recap

The Bucks remain perfect at home after defeating the Mavericks 97-95 on Saturday. The Bucks stuck to their blueprint of falling behind early, staying within striking distance, and finishing strongly. They narrowly lost each of the first three quarters but poured in 35 points in an excellent fourth quarter. The win streak is now five, with the last three coming against truly formidable opponents.

Three Bucks:

  1. Michael Redd. 27 points on 11 shots from the field. Set the tone by getting to the basket with four layups in the first seven minutes of the game.
  1. Mo Williams. Easily outplayed Devin Harris despite sprained right ankle. How many point guards would you rather have, really? I shudder to think of what records the Bucks and Heat would have right now had Williams landed in South Beach.
  1. Andrew Bogut. A monster on the boards and some clutch play in the fourth quarter.

Three Numbers:

+11. Dan Gadzuric's team-leading +/- score, accomplished in seven minutes.

50.8%. Bucks' shooting percentage from the field.

  1. Free throws attempted by Bucks' starters, compared to just eight by Mavericks' starters.

Three Good:

  1. The Desmond Mason/Bobby Simmons platoon at small forward provided some nice balance. Simmons actually finished with more minutes (28-17) for the second game in a row. The important thing was that both stuck to their strengths. Mason played offensively where he is most comfortable: up around the rim.  And he refrained from forcing any bad shots, even after hitting his patented hook shot early. Mason’s athleticism can be a real asset to the Bucks, as his dunk and nice block of Diop reminded us tonight. Meanwhile, Simmons also played within the offense, and continued to play with some aggressiveness, adding seven rebounds. Both shot 3-4 from the field.
  1. Despite struggling offensively again, Yi Jianlian kept his cool and provided us with his most memorable play to date: spinning around Dirk Nowitzki on the baseline before throwing down a two-handed slam on Nowitzki and DeSagana Diop. The play was a testament to Yi's insistence on confronting his biggest challenges head-on. And although he couldn’t find his shot he found other way to contribute by pulling down seven rebounds and getting to the line six times, making five. His game defense against MVP Nowitzki also deserves praise.  It was a team effort, but holding Nowitzki to 20 points and three rebounds is pretty close to ideal.
  1. The centers came ready to play tonight. Bogut’s first half aggressiveness bordered on pugnacity, and still he managed to stay out of foul trouble. The lack of fouls had something to do with his relatively tame defensive assignment of Diop, but his ability to stay on the court was paramount to the Bucks' success. Bogut was all over the glass, hauling in seven rebounds in the first half alone. The Mavericks made a killing on the offensive glass in the third quarter but Bogut was hardly solely responsible for that. The overall impression was that he’s not interested in being bullied around in his backyard. Bogut also closed the game with similar ferocity. He might not ever be a true enforcer but he’s moving in the right direction, adding two more blocks tonight. And Dan Gadzuric was a particularly effective ball of energy tonight. His six points and three rebounds in the first half provided a big boost and the Bucks generally looked good when he was on the court.

Three Not-So-Good:

  1. The Bucks reverted to getting badly outscored on three pointers. This time the point difference was 27-6. The problem wasn't so much that the Bucks didn't make many though. The real problem was leaving the likes of Jason Terry open from outside in the fourth quarter, allowing the Mavericks to keep pace. Even after hitting five from outside the Bucks somehow forgot to guard him while up three points with twenty seconds to go. Luckily Terry didn't make them pay.
  1. The slow starts are getting a little old. Not too bad yet, but it's getting there. If the Bucks could realistically continue to come back it would be all in good fun, like the last four games have been. Unfortunately,  it's highly unlikely they'll continue to win so often in spite of losing first quarters.
  1. The 41 free throw attempts were great. The Mavericks attempted 19 more shots from the field than the Bucks (84-65) and shot a pretty solid 45.2%. So getting to the line was really a deciding factor in the game. However, if they would have shot a little better than 29-41 the game wouldn't have been so worryingly close down the stretch. Granted, Gadzuric's 0-4 was mostly responsible and Redd came through at the very end.