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Bucks vs. Mavericks Preview | Monta Ellis returns as Milwaukee goes for 2nd straight win

Monta Ellis will play his first game at the BMO Harris Bradley Center since leaving the Bucks in free agency. Larry Sanders is doubtful with a thumb injury.

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
2013/14 NBA Season
(2-2, 1-1 home)
(3-3, 0-3 away)
November 9, 2013
BMO Harris Bradley Center | Milwaukee, WI
7:30 CT
FS Wisconsin | 620 WTMJ / Audio League Pass
Probable Starters
Nate Wolters PG Jose Calderon
O.J. Mayo SG Monta Ellis
Caron Butler SF Shawn Marion
John Henson PF Dirk Nowitzki
Zaza Pachulia C Samuel Dalembert
2013/14 Advanced Stats
91.5 (28th) Pace 99.4 (5th)
105.8 (7th) ORtg 108.6 (4th)
106.3 (21st) DRtg 108.6 (28th)

On the Mavs: Mavs MoneyballThe Two Man GameDallas Basketball

Mavericks Update: Dallas comes to Milwaukee on a two-game slide and has yet to win a game away from the American Airlines Center. Against Minnesota last night, Dallas was upended by the Timberwolves' Killer Kevins--both Love and Martin scored 32 points in a tight game that could put some lingering fatigue in play for an older team like the Mavs. Dallas also lost in Oklahoma City last Wednesday.

For more on Dallas, check out Frank's Q&A with Rebecca Lawson from our friends at Mavs Moneyball

Rested. Unlike Dallas, Milwaukee should be quite fresh Saturday night, not having played since beating the Cavaliers 109-104 on Wednesday. The Bucks relied on the hot shooting of O.J. Mayo (6-7 3FG) and Gary Neal (4-5 3FG) to down Cleveland and they'll likely seek to do so again tonight. Dallas has defended the 3-point line well so far, giving up the 8th-fewest attempts per game (22.2) and allowing about a league-average conversion rate (35.3%). Dallas also shoots and makes a lot of threes (23.7 attempts per game, 41.5% shooting from deep), so the old adage about shooters' legs could prove critical.

Injury Update. The time off has given PG Brandon Knight a chance to recover from the hamstring strain he suffered on opening night; he's probable for tonight's game according to the Bucks' official gameday preview. Wolters will still get the start (he's earned it), but Knight is likely in line for 10-15 minutes to bolster the depleted guard rotation. Larry Sanders is doubtful due to a thumb sprain--he's likely eager to get back on the court and show Bucks fans he's still the same player they fell in love with last season. For now he's still in damage-control mode owing to fallout from his weekend scuffle at a Milwaukee nightclub. Luke Ridnour remains doubtful with back soreness, while Ersan Ilyasova will continue to come off the bench as he recovers from a preseason ankle injury.

Monta, Mayo, Mavs, Milwaukee. The headline of tonight's game is sure to be Monta Ellis' return to Milwaukee in his first contest against the Bucks since leaving as a free agent last summer. Many will be eager to play the "burn the team that spurned you" card, but keep in mind that the Bucks reportedly offered Ellis a generous extension late last season--this isn't a case of team rejecting player. Still, Ellis will have plenty of motivation to prove he's a better player than he showed in his time with the Bucks. Through six games, he's turned a lot of heads, putting up career-best numbers in TS% (58.3), free-throw rate (.381) and PER (20.0). He's been extremely effective in the pick-and-roll, pairing as well with Dirk Nowitzki as nearly anyone could have hoped. Of course, we're still talking about just 6 games, a span that can be heavily swayed by a hot shooting night or two. There's no doubt that pairing with a player like Nowitzki, along with a good offensive guard in Calderon, has done wonders for Ellis' production. The question is how long he can sustain this career season.

Of course, Ellis isn't the only player facing his old team tonight. O.J. Mayo flourished in the first half of his only season with Dallas, taking the offensive lead as Nowitzki recovered from offseason knee surgery. While his numbers took a significant hit when Dirk returned, his season was still strong enough to justify declining his $4.2M player option in search of a long-term deal, which he found in Milwaukee. He's played about as expected with the Bucks, shooting very well from behind the arc and distributing the ball well from the 2-spot, though he's also turning the ball over more than ever. Mayo has a little more to prove in the "stick it to your old team" sense, with Dallas turning to Ellis as a replacement after revamping their backcourt. Both are undersized, shoot-first guards, and should put on quite a show in their matchup Saturday night.