The Dallas Mavericks own the worst record in the NBA so perhaps the sight of the Milwaukee Bucks visiting town Saturday is a good development. The Mavericks have excelled against the Bucks in recent seasons by winning eight of the last nine meetings and they badly need a victory after losing four straight and 10 of their last 11 contests.
Milwaukee arrives with a season-best four-game winning streak while riding the talents of star small forward Giannis Antetokounmpo, who has compiled 13 20-point outings while averaging 30.6 points, second-most in the NBA. The Bucks are well-rested as they last played Wednesday when they registered 16 blocked shots (two off the franchise record) in a 99-95 home victory over the Detroit Pistons. Dallas suffered a disappointing 111-87 home loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday as it built a 12-point halftime lead before being drubbed 68-32 in the second half. The Mavericks are an NBA-worst 1-8 at home and Friday’s scoring output was their lowest of the campaign.
TV: 9 p.m. ET, FSN Wisconsin (Milwaukee), FSN Southwest (Dallas)
ABOUT THE BUCKS (8-6): Milwaukee hasn’t lost since point guard Eric Bledsoe joined the team as his energy has helped spark his teammates. He is averaging 13.3 points in the four games but his shooting has been wayward at a 36.7 percent rate, including 3-of-18 from 3-point range. “That’s my game,” Bledsoe told reporters, referencing that he can be an asset in many ways. “Like I said, I found ways to change the game not only by scoring. I‘m not shooting the ball well so I have to focus on other things I can do to help.”
ABOUT THE MAVERICKS (2-14): The third quarter has repeatedly been a problem for Dallas this season and Minnesota changed the complexion of Friday’s game with a 27-6 surge to take a seven-point lead. “I need to look at the film and see what happened in the third,” Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said afterward. “We just can’t allow that to happen. I know we are stronger than that.” Shooting guard Wesley Matthews played despite foot soreness and tallied only eight points and is 10-of-44 shooting over the last four games.
1. The Bucks have dropped their last four games in Dallas with their most recent victory occurring Feb. 26, 2013.
2. Dallas rookie PG Dennis Smith Jr. had eight points on 3-of-12 shooting against Minnesota after averaging 21.3 points over the previous four contests.
3. Milwaukee SG Khris Middleton had 27 points in Wednesday’s victory over Detroit, marking the third time he has scored 27 or more this season.
PREDICTION: Bucks 105, Mavericks 97