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Feb 2, 2024 9:35 pm

Doc Rivers seeks first Bucks win in matchup with Mavs

The Milwaukee Bucks’ tough road trip continues as they match up with the host Dallas Mavericks on Saturday night looking to end their two-game skid.

Among the many storylines with this Bucks team and their new head coach, Damian Lillard took the spotlight in his return to Portland on Wednesday night. However, the Trail Blazers spoiled the occasion, winning 119-116.

Lillard, who received multiple ovations from the Portland crowd, scored 25 points on 9-of-23 shooting from the field. He was second to Giannis Antetokounmpo’s 27 points.

Khris Middleton added 21 points with a team-high eight assists. Doc Rivers, who took over as head coach at the start of the five-game road trip Monday, is now 0-2.

“So far in these two games, we’ve had two or three stretches … where we just have bad offensive possessions,” Rivers said. “A lot of those are turnovers that lead to buckets. Those change the game.”

Dallas also last played on Wednesday night, losing a 121-87 blowout to the Timberwolves in Minneapolis without both Luka Doncic (ankle) and Kyrie Irving (thumb).

Josh Green led the team in scoring with 18 points. Jaden Hardy added 14 while Richaun Holmes finished with an 11-point, 10-rebound double-double.

“Once our offense started missing shots it started to take away from our defense,” Mavs coach Jason Kidd said. “We’ve got to keep fighting, we’re not always going to score. Got to find a way to get stops.”

Doncic dominates the stat sheet for the Mavs, leading the team in points (34.7, second in NBA), rebounds (8.6), assists (9.6, third in NBA) and steals (1.4) per game. Irving is averaging 25.2 points and 5.3 assists per night.

Antetokounmpo leads Milwaukee with 30.9 points (fourth in NBA), 11.6 rebounds, 6.1 assists and 1.4 steals per game. Lillard averages 25.1 points and 6.8 assists and Brook Lopez is second in the NBA with his 2.8 blocks per game.

Both teams can rely on high-scoring offenses thanks to their star power. The Bucks rank third in the league in offensive rating at 120.1, and while the Mavericks rank 10th with 117.4, they rank second in offensive rating in victories at 126.3.

Dallas has played without at least one of Irving or Doncic in 26 of their 48 games, and are 0-3 without both of them on the floor, two of those losses being against top-seeded Minnesota.

On the defensive end, neither team has impressed this season. Milwaukee ranks 19th and Dallas ranks 23rd in defensive rating at 116.4 and 117.8, respectively.

It is yet to be determined whether Doncic or Irving will be able to go Saturday, while the Bucks’ injury report remains clear.

The Mavs were also without Dereck Lively II (nose), Derrick Jones Jr. (wrist) and Dante Exum (knee) on Wednesday. Their status is TBD for Saturday as well.

Milwaukee has won three consecutive matchups against Dallas, including early on this season in November when they won 132-125 in Milwaukee.

The Bucks got 40 points and 15 boards from Antetokounmpo, while Irving and Doncic combined for 74 points and 15 assists for Dallas.

–Field Level Media

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