Preview: Mavs look for bounce-back win vs. Bucks before three-game road trip
Preview: Bucks (26-28) at Mavericks (25-30)
Mavs look for bounce-back win vs. Bucks before three-game road trip
DALLAS — Although his team would eventually fall in a classic Western Conference Sunday matinee duel, 11-time All-Star Dirk Nowitzki announced to the basketball world that he is officially back after missing 29 games due to injury.
While Nowitzki carved up the Los Angeles Lakers’ defense for a season-high 30 points on 11-of-19 shooting, he also snatched down 13 rebounds for his first double-double of the season. Still, the Mavericks (25-30) wouldn’t have enough firepower to match Kobe Bryant and the Lakers while falling to a 103-99 home defeat.
Tuesday night, however, the Mavs will try to add more support around Nowitzki, hoping the 7-footer can match Sunday’s efforts while leading the Dallas team back into playoff contention with a win at home over the Milwaukee Bucks before venturing out from the second game of a back-to-back to kick-start a three-game road trip. The Mavs will also attempt to crack a dent in the 4 1/2-game gap between themselves and Houston for the final playoff spot in the West.
“You know, it always comes back to if I would have been in this shape all season long. I’d probably think we’d be right there or might be in the playoffs,” Nowitzki admitted. “But I wasn’t. I missed almost two months. I’ve been fighting back a long time, and obviously that didn’t help. Now, we’re in this situation. We’ve got to make the best of it and try to keep battling. … We play some of the other teams that are right in front of us, so we’ve got to make the best out of it and keep pushing.
“It’s another tough one. I mean, it seems like it’s a theme of the year,” he added. “We’re always right there in some of those games and we can never pull them off. And if you want to be a playoff team, you’ve got to find a way to win at least half of them. We finally pulled one out in New Orleans the other day, but we haven’t really won those close games at a high clip, so that’s really going to hurt us. This was another game that we needed to have against a team that’s right there with us in the hunt and just not good enough.”
With Nowitzki leading the playoff push, the Mavs will look to continue their recent home dominance over the Bucks (26-28) after winning eight of the last nine meetings between the two teams in Dallas. Meanwhile, Nowitzki plans to continue tormenting the franchise that drafted him back in 1998, after scoring at least 28 points in five of his last seven matchups against Milwaukee.
Unlike the Mavs, however, the Bucks would be in the postseason if the playoffs were to begin Tuesday, currently sitting in the Eastern Conference’s eight slot despite losses in seven of their last eight outings. But the Bucks journey to Dallas losers of three straight, including a 103-102 home defeat at the hands of Atlanta on Saturday.
And with the Dallas defense keyed in on containing the backcourt of Brandon Jennings, Monte Ellis and new acquisition J.J. Redick, following a six-player trade deadline deal with Orlando, the Mavs will quickly try to turn their attention from their disappointing loss on Sunday to claiming a much-needed win on their home floor before making stops in Memphis, Brooklyn and Houston.
“It’s one game that we felt we could have won. We just didn’t win it and we didn’t get it done, so we have to win the next one,” sixth man Vince Carter said while taking one more look back at the loss to the Lakers.
He added: “Every game’s a big game, so this is not any different from playing anybody else. I don’t care about the players or the records on the floor. We need to win games, so every game we play is a big game right now.”
Note: The Mavs return to their home floor Tuesday night against the Milwaukee Bucks prior to heading out on a three-game road trip. The game will air locally on Fox Sports Southwest at 7:30 p.m. CT. Tickets are still available and can be purchased by calling (214) 747-MAVS (6287) or by visiting Mavs.com.
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