3 keys for Milwaukee Bucks in interesting matchup vs Dallas Mavericks

MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - OCTOBER 15: (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - OCTOBER 15: (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /
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Milwaukee Bucks: Jrue Holiday. Dallas Mavericks: Luka Doncic
Apr 8, 2021; Dallas, Texas, USA; Dallas Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports /

After a couple of thrilling and clutch wins over two Eastern Conference rivals, the Milwaukee Bucks took the load off in their last game by sitting a bunch of key players at the end of three games in four games stretch. Sure, the reserves got blown out but who cares! It’s time to toss that game in the garbage and move on to a much more fun matchup tonight!

The last time the Milwaukee Bucks and Dallas Mavericks met was back on December 23rd (a game the Bucks won) but that was just before the Mavs took off. Since December 31st, Dallas has been one of the league’s best teams with a 32-12 record and a 4.5 net rating (both are fifth-best).

Despite an ugly loss to the Washington Wizards, they’ve been reinvigorated by the addition of Spencer Dinwiddie and I’ve been really looking forward to this matchup with how well the Mavs have been playing for some time now.

Luka Doncic will (naturally) draw a lot of defensive attention from the Milwaukee Bucks

A large reason for the Mavericks’ turnaround has been the resurgence of Luka Doncic after a relatively slow start to the season. He’s back to being one of the league’s best overall offensive players and is the number one bullet point on any scouting report for the Mavs.

Since that December 31st start date for Dallas’ surge, Doncic has averaged 29.7 points on 58 percent true shooting along with 9.8 rebounds, 8.6 assists, and 1.2 steals per game. If we’re cherry-picking days, then his scoring since the middle of January has been even better at over 30 points per game on 60 percent true shooting!

He didn’t play against the Bucks in their first meeting this season but was pretty dang dominant last year. In two games, Doncic averaged 27.5 points on 56 percent true shooting along with 9.5 rebounds and 11.0 assists.

The true shooting is only around average because he shot 26.7 percent from 3 on 15 attempts and also went 5-of-12 from the free-throw line. Still, he managed to pile up points as well as set up his teammates.

In terms of guarding him, Jrue Holiday took the majority of the assignment last year and Doncic shot 9-of-18 against him (including 7-of-12 — 58.3 percent — on 2-point shots), drew two shooting fouls, and dished out 12 dimes.

What that tells me is that we should expect to see another game with Wesley Matthews in the starting lineup to allow Holiday a few possessions off from guarding Doncic as well as allow them to be more diverse in their defensive coverages.

There are still reasons for and against keeping him in the starting five, but if it allows head coach Mike Budenholzer the ability to be more versatile in the defenses that he can run, then by all means keep it up.