The two-time reigning NBA MVP will battle a player most feel will win the honor sooner rather than later when the Dallas Mavericks take on the Milwaukee Bucks in the first game Friday’s ESPN doubleheader. After a slow start to the season, Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks have heated up winning three straight and six of their last seven games to move into a tie atop the Eastern Conference. The Mavs are equally hot having won four in a row despite a COVID related disruption that forced a postponement of a game earlier in the week. But as long as Luka Doncic is on the floor, the Mavs have a shot.
Dallas Mavericks vs Milwaukee Bucks Odds
Mavericks (Click here)
Bucks (Click here)
Over/Under (Click here)
Head to Head
The teams are meeting for the first time this season, and the Mavs have fond memories of their battles with the Bucks last season. Milwaukee had the NBA’s best record losing only 17 games, and the Mavs took it to them twice, including once in the Florida bubble. Winning in Milwaukee isn’t easy, but the Mavs took care of that with a 120-116 decision, putting an end to the Bucks’ 18-game winning streak at the time. And they did it without Doncic, who had a tender ankle. Dallas secured the season sweep in August when play resumed posting a 136-132 overtime decision with Doncic recording his 17th triple-double of the season with 36 points, 14 rebounds and 19 assists. The Mavs covered in both games and are 3-1 ATS in the last four encounters. The teams have cashed the over in three straight meetings and in four of the last five.
The Mavs fell below the minimum threshold of available players and had Monday’s game with New Orleans postponed. The numbers increased enough to play, though Dallas was shorthanded when they hit the floor against Charlotte on Wednesday. The return of Kristaps Porzingis helped with the depth issue and also gives the Mavs a complement to Doncic.
With those two on the floor for the first time this season the Mavs beat the Hornets, 104-93. Porzingis is on a time restriction after having knee surgery in October. He scored 16 points in 21 minutes while Doncic nearly had another triple-double with 34 points, 13 rebounds and nine assists. “When both of those guys are out there at the same time it’s a game changer for us. They are two guys who can play on the inside and space the court on the outside,” coach Rick Carlisle said.
While they got past Charlotte for their fourth consecutive victory and payout, the Mavs will face a stiffer test and will still be shorthanded. Jalen Brunson, Dorian Finney-Smith, Maxi Kleber, Dwight Powell and Josh Richardson will all miss Friday’s game due to the league’s health and safety protocols. Doncic is putting up MVP type numbers in the early season leading the Mavs with 27.4 points, 9.6 rebounds and 8.3 assists per game.
The Bucks have their own triple-double machine and a guy who has won the MVP – twice – on their side. Antetokounmpo had his second triple-double of the season with 22 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists as the Bucks won their third straight. Since dropping three of their first five games, Milwaukee is 6-1 SU and 4-2 ATS in its last seven games.
Under Mike Budenholzer the Bucks have been one of the most efficient offensive teams and that hasn’t changed. They are the highest scoring team in the NBA at 120.9 points per game while shooting nearly 50 percent from the field overall and 41.3 percent from distance. The three-point shot is the most feared weapon in their arsenal. The Bucks attempt 40 triples a game they are just one of two teams to average more than 16 made threes a night.
Giannis is definitely the leader of the team, but the Bucks have a strong cast of characters. Khris Middleton averages 21.6 points making 47.1 percent of his threes. The addition of Jrue Holiday was huge and he’s paying dividends with 15.2 points and 5.0 assists per game. He’s also a stout defender. “I knew he was really good, but every day I play with him I realize how good a person he is, good a teammate he is, and how much better he is than what I thought,” Giannis said of his new teammate.
Mavericks vs Bucks Prediction
Best Bet: Milwaukee Bucks and the OVER
Both teams can score the basketball giving value to the over in this contest. But you know oddsmakers are going to adjust the total accordingly. Having Porzingis back is a boost for the Mavs, but they are still without several key players, which is something that will affect them against a strong Milwaukee team. And while those losses last season were just a hiccup, you know the Bucks want to settle the score.