So let's just run through the math real quick. Dallas Mavericks without Dirk Nowitzki: two-point victory over the Milwaukee Bucks on a buzzer-beating jumper by Monta Ellis. Dallas Mavericks with Dirk Nowitzki: 23-point win with few real challenges.
Sounds about right.
Nowitzki teamed up with Chandler Parsons and Monta Ellis to lead Dallas to a 125-102 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks on Sunday night, starting the Bucks' streak of seven straight games against Western opponents on a sour note. Nowitzki, who sat out the Mavericks' first game against Milwaukee earlier this week, scored 21 points, while Parsons notched a game-high 28 and Ellis added 19. Those three combined to shoot 26 of 38 from the floor. The Mavericks as a whole hit 58% of their shots, including 12 three-pointers.
All five of Milwaukee's starters scored in double-figures, led by Giannis Antetokounmpo's 18 points on 8-11 shooting, including one very highlight-worth slam in the third quarter. Brandon Knight had 16 points and 5 assists while Jabari Parker added 15 points, five boards and a pair of steals.
Just as in their first matchup with Dallas, the Bucks shot the ball well overall but still couldn't match the Mavs' offensive output. They committed 19 turnovers (same as in the first game) and made only 4-15 shots from behind the arc. Knight did a nice job attacking the poor defenders Dallas employs at point guard, getting into the paint and drawing 7 free-throw attempts, all of which he made. Giannis picked his spots nicely, scoring on a number of cuts and lurking dunks off the penetration and passing of his teammates.
Unfortunately Milwaukee just couldn't sustain the sort of consistent defense needed to keep pace with Dallas' high-powered attack. There were stretches where it looked like Milwaukee had a chance to get back into the game, including an extended 16-2 run in the third quarter that brought them back from a 20-point deficit. That run featured a number of highlights from the young Bucks, including a few fast-break buckets for Parker and this vicious dunk by Antetokounmpo.
After "holding" the Mavericks to a 110.6 offensive rating (bad overall, but below Dallas' 115.3 average ORtg) in their first matchup, Milwaukee put up little resistance this time around. Dallas committed only 11 turnovers and got a bunch of easy buckets by virtue of their 14 steals--most of Milwaukee's miscues were of the highly-damaging "live ball, it's a live ball, oh shoot there it goes" variety. Combined with efficient shooting at the line and 8 offensive rebounds, Dallas lit up the Bucks to the tune of a 131.6 offensive rating.
It doesn't get much easier for the Bucks on Tuesday, as they face Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and the suddenly healthy Thunder in OKC on Tuesday.