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Mavericks Fall to 10.5 Point Underdogs With Doncic Out in Milwaukee

Sam Cox

by Sam Cox in NBA Basketball

Dec 16, 2019 · 6:46 AM PST

Porzingis shooting
Kristaps Porzingis must now be the Mavs leader in Luka Doncic's absence. Photo from @Updates_knicks (Twitter)
  • Mavericks’ MVP candidate Luka Doncic is out with an ankle sprain
  • Milwaukee is riding an 18-game winning streak
  • Get the odds, our pick, and all the info you need to bet the game below

The Dallas Mavericks head to Fiserv Forum to face the Milwaukee Bucks on Monday night. With Luka Doncic out after spraining his ankle on Saturday, the Mavericks are 10.5-point underdogs.

The Bucks own the joint-best record in the NBA at 24-3 and have won their last 18 straight – Milwaukee are unbeaten at home so far this season, but are without Dragan Bender and Eric Bledsoe for the visit of Dallas.

The table below shows the latest Dallas Mavericks vs Milwaukee Bucks odds, with the hosts heavy favorites to make it 19 consecutive wins.

Dallas Mavericks vs Milwaukee Bucks Odds

Team Spread Moneyline Over/Under
Dallas Mavericks +10.5 (-105) +500 Over 227 (-110)
Milwaukee Bucks -10.5 (-115) -700 Under 227 (-110)

Odds taken Dec. 16.

Positives Despite Miami Loss

Dallas lost in overtime to the Miami Heat on Saturday, but there were major positives to be taken after Doncic went down inside the first two minutes and was unable to return. The Mavericks were down 23 points at halftime following Meyers Leonard and Kelly Olynyk hitting several open threes. Dallas’ defense had struggled, the Heat were getting good looks whenever they wanted.

Even without Doncic, the Mavs staged a stellar second half comeback. Maxi Kleber, Jalen Brunson and JJ Barea were great off the bench, combining for 47 points. Tim Hardaway Jr. and Kristaps Porzingis scored freely with Porzingis providing important interior defense as Dallas kept the Heat to just 39 second half points to force overtime.

Although the game ended in defeat for Dallas – making it two home losses in a row – Rick Carlisle will have been pleased with his team’s performance after Doncic left the game so early.

Whether that means much ahead of Monday’s clash in Milwaukee remains to be seen. While Saturday’s display was impressive, heading to Wisconsin to face Milwaukee is an absolute whale of a task.

What to Do About Antetokounmpo

There’s no such thing as stopping Antetokounmpo. Slowing him down is questionable. Teams have to at least make him work offensively, though.

The reigning MVP has seen his points, rebounds, and steals increase per 36 minutes. Milwaukee’s wins are often massive – 10 of their 18 wins on this streak have been by 10 points or more, and five have been by more than 20. Antetokounmpo is playing fewer minutes as a result.

He comes into every game well rested and only logged 24 minutes against the Cavaliers on Saturday. Dallas, compared to many teams in the league, are well-equipped to make him work on the offensive end. The Greek Freak will still get his numbers, of course, but in Dorian Finney-Smith, Kristaps Porzingis and Maxi Kleber, the Mavs have players who have the length and athleticism to trouble Antetokounmpo and potentially force others to beat them.

Forcing Antetokounmpo to pass is just the start of it. Milwaukee hit around 36% of their threes as a team, and are loaded with shooters. The Mavericks rank ninth in three-point percentage allowed – they will need to be completing shots on the perimeter to stand a chance.

At the other end, Dallas – who rank second in threes attempted per game – need good nights from their perimeter shooters, though their shots will be trickier without Doncic’s playmaking.

Unstoppable Bucks

It’s a shame Doncic is missing out. Seeing two MVP contenders face-off, and two of the top three offenses league, would have been fun. Milwaukee would have been heavy favorites even if Doncic was available, however.

Without the second-year sensation, Dallas could face the same fate as many of Milwaukee’s opponents (a heavy defeat). A breakthrough night for Porzingis is their best chance of staging an upset, but that seems very unlikely against the NBA’s best defense. Back the Bucks to make it 19 on the bounce before they face the Lakers on Thursday.

Pick: Milwaukee Bucks -10.5 (-115)

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