The junior varsity Mavericks beat the reigning NBA champs to go undefeated in the preseason.
The Dallas Mavericks beat the Milwaukee Bucks 114-103. This is normally one of the most exciting matchups of the season. Kristaps Porzingis brings his best to match up with Giannis Antetokounmpo. Jrue Holliday does his best to make life difficult for Luka Doncic. Tim Hardaway Jr. and Khris Middleton provide exquisite shot making.
Unfortunately for the Mavericks, Luka, Porzingis and Hardaway sat this one out versus the near full strength Bucks(missing only Middleton among their stars) leaving themselves at a significant talent disadvantage.
If the starting lineups weren’t a bad enough sign for the Mavericks’ chances in this game, two time MVP but notoriously poor shooter, Antetokounmpo made a pull up three on the Bucks first possession in route to a 7-0 Bucks run to start the game. However, the Mavericks did not give up and they clawed their way back to a decisive win. Here’s what we learned.
The Mavericks are much more competitive this year
After Antetokounmpo hit the opening bucket mentioned earlier and missing so much talent, the Mavericks could have rolled over and died much like the Hornets did against them. But they fought back and not only kept it close but actually pulled away for a decisive win. That level of fight is a positive as the team prepares to begin the regular season.
Mavericks fans should not be taking victory laps before a regular season game is even played. However, it is clear that the team is enjoying itself quite a bit more with a different coach and that is resulting in better effort.
Jalen Brunson isn’t a star, but he is a darn good basketball player
Brunson has generally put up big numbers when he is given the keys to the offense in Luka’s place and tonight was no different. He also drew two early charges and was the best player on the floor for the Mavericks.
His contract status is one of the more interesting situations for the Mavericks to watch this offseason. They do not have a way to replace his production so they cannot lose him for nothing. He is not perfect but his self creation is an important skill for this team.
Josh Green had his best night in the preseason
He had a nice finish in traffic, utilizing his athleticism and several nice passes. He even made a three. Green is a long way away from providing useful production to a Mavericks team that is trying to contend. But he simply has to play to develop and playing him is much easier if he is providing positive flashes like he did tonight.
With around 9:20 remaining in the second quarter, he missed a corner three that was an incredibly important shot for him. Making or missing any one preseason shot is not all that important in the grand scheme of things, but he took it immediately and confidently with no hesitation following a kick to the corner. Being willing to take that shot, that way is a big development for him. He later made a step back three which would seem more positive, but that is less of what he will actually be asked to do. Overall this was a positive step for him.
Trey Burke should make this team
The Mavericks have to cut one player in order to comply with roster rules. Sadly that player should be Tyrell Terry. If the team bases this decision on the ability to help the 2021-2022 team win, Burke has done enough to earn a spot. He was solid tonight with 14 points in 16 minutes and Terry just has not been able to stay with the team for extended period of times.
It would be a mistake to speculate on the reasons for his absences so I will not do so. But the Mavericks simply cannot wait for him in their current situation. Burke could help the team win two to three games throughout the season and that could be the difference in being at home or on the road in the first round.
The Mavericks finish the preseason perfect. It is foolish to put too much stock in preseason but it is always better to win than lose. The Mavericks will now rest up in preparation for the season opener against the Hawks.