The Milwaukee Bucks are in North Texas tonight and are looking to stretch their win streak to five against the Dallas Mavericks. Wednesday night saw the Bucks continue their stretch of closing out games during the home stretch of games by knocking off their division rival, and Central Division front runners, the Detroit Pistons. Tonight’s match-up has all the makings of a classic trap game for the Bucks. On the road against an underwhelming opponent means the team will have to organically create their own energy as the crowd energy will be lacking.
The Bucks have been absolutely rolling the past week and Wednesday night’s game saw the defense make stand after stand. The end result was a season high 16 blocks, including four from both Giannis Antetokounmpo and Thon Maker. John Henson is coming off his first double-double of the season and was very impressive against Detroit’s large adult son, Andre Drummond. Matthew Dellavedova and Mirza Teletovic continue to find themselves out of the lineup as the pair are dealing with knee issues.
Player to Watch: Thon Maker
Maker had spent this past week working out with the always hooded, Kevin Garnett during practices. There were spots against Detroit where Thon was more aggressive than he has been all season and was not be animated in celebrations. With the Mavericks lacking in front court stalwarts, this is a game where Thon can start to mount a bounce back to what has been a less than encouraging start to his second year in the NBA.
The Mavericks have been pretty putrid this season. They are currently on a four game losing streak with the most recent loss coming last night to the Minnesota Timberwolves. The Mavs scored just 32 points in the second half of that stinker of a contest. Maverick-lifer, Dirk Nowitzki, reconnects with former teammate, Jason Terry, tonight as the two find themselves in mentor roles. Rookie sensation (and also part firework), Dennis Smith Jr., has had to learn on the job and roll with the punches as he becomes the new face of the franchise. His 89 offensive rating is less than ideal but then again, so is the rest of the Dallas roster.
Player to Watch: Harrison Barnes
The Ames, Iowa native will likely be tasked with guarding Khris Middleton and looking to keep Khash from emerging as the secondary scoring option for the Bucks. Offensively Barnes has put up career high numbers across the board through 16 games and has emerged on his own after growing in the shadow of the Golden State Warriors’ star-studded roster. Barnes has been the only consistent scoring option and if he does not play up to snuff this will be another long game for Dallas.
What Vegas Says
The experts at Bovada Sportsbook have the Bucks listed as seven point favorites with the over/under sitting at 205. After averaging out the two teams’ offensive and defensive ratings, this game should shake out to a 109-104 squeaker in favor of the Bucks. So take the Mavericks at +7 and the under folks.