While the final score won't matter in the grand scheme of Ws and Ls, coach Jason Kidd gets another chance to experiment with his lineups, which tonight should include rookie Thon Maker for the first time. Plus, if you're the type that's uninterested in exhibition basketball, you'll get the chance to feast your eyes on former Buck Andrew Bogut in Maverick white and blue!
First, let us reflect on the waiving of Bucks fan favorite Jabari Brown earlier this week:
The Milwaukee Bucks have requested waivers on guard Jabari Brown, General Manager John Hammond announced today.— Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) October 5, 2016
His two week stint with the team was cut far too short. Fare thee well, Other Jabari.
After riding their reserve unit to a spirited win in Chicago against the Bulls on Monday, the Bucks will be looking for another chance to trot out their new faces as Jason Kidd works out the kinks in his rotations. Kidd suggested on media day that Rashad Vaughn and Miles Plumlee would have first crack at the shooting guard and center spots, and sure enough both got the nod on Monday against the Bulls -- albeit without too much to show for their efforts. In other words, there's still plenty of evaluation left to be done: Can Greg Monroe put on another clinic as a sub? Will Michael Carter-Williams up his trade value so that he can be shipped out to Sacramento (or somewhere else)? How many more uncontested jumpers can Vaughn clank in agony? All that and more will be answered at least in part tonight.
Perhaps a more interesting storyline heading into this evening for Milwaukee, however, will revolve around the performance of the starting five and Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jabari Parker, both of whom struggled out the gate Monday evening. They exerted increasing influence over the flow of the game as the night went on, but a strong first quarter would be a welcome sight. Inserting Matthew Dellavedova into the starting five where he belongs wouldn't hurt either; Giannis and Jabari found their best rhythm in the second quarter while sharing the court with Delly, and it would seem to be only a matter of time before the former Cavalier lays claim to the nominal starting point guard position.
Still, perhaps the best news is regarding a player who didn't play on Monday:
Jason Kidd was working with Thon Maker one-on-one at practice today and said today he believes #Bucks rookie will play Saturday in Madison.— Jimmy Carlton (@jimmycarlton88) October 5, 2016
Milwaukee Bucks rookie Thon Maker, who makes preseason debut today versus Dallas Mavs, expected to play in range of 20-25 minutes, I'm told.— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) October 8, 2016
As you may recall, Maker sprained his right wrist on the first day of training camp and was held out of Monday's game. On the downside, Rashad Vaughn is listed as questionable with a sprained ankle, so it will be interesting to see if Kidd rests his second-year guard and perhaps gives Jason Terry some run tonight. The 39-year-old Terry was rested against the Bulls, with Kidd hinting that he wasn't too concerned about giving Terry extended minutes in preseason.
The Mavericks present an interesting look at a team that could outperform expectations in a run to the playoffs or fully implode into dust if Dirk Nowitzki finally begins to decline. Their offseason highlight was surely the max contract given to extremely on-again, off-again forward Harrison Barnes of Warriors fame. While that deal may never live up to its $94 million price tag, it made it abundantly clear that Dallas is still desperate to hang on for relevance in the twilight of Dirk's career.
Outside of the Barnes signing, Dallas does have an interesting collection of younger talent that could be poised to take center stage if the season gets off to a rocky start. Justin Anderson's two-way play turned heads last spring, Seth Curry (who posted a 60.3% TS% last season) may finally get significant minutes after escaping from the Sacramento Kings, Dwight Powell has shown flashes of potential of a viable two-way player in his first two seasons, and who knows what the Mavs have in their second round center AJ Hammons?
Balancing a need for wins with a desire to give the young guys some playing time will certainly be a challenge for coach Rick Carlisle, but will anyone be surprised when he accomplishes both with ease? His ability to craft an effective offense (11th in ORtg last year) alongside a solid defense (17th in '15-'16) will most likely continue, much like the changing of the seasons and the rising and setting of the sun.
As for Saturday, indications on Friday were that Deron Williams and Bogut would be available, while Dirk and former Badger Devin Harris were likely to miss out:
On the Mavericks: Mavs Moneyball