The Dallas Mavericks and Milwaukee Bucks won their most recent games by a combined 83 points, so neither will be lacking for confidence heading into Tuesday night’s matchup at American Airlines Center.
Dallas, though, has routinely blown out the Bucks in winning six straight home games in the series, and Dirk Nowitzki(notes) and his teammates should be well-rested after cruising to their largest margin of victory in franchise history.
The Mavericks (29-15) have the best road record in the Western Conference, but a 92-81 loss to Philadelphia on Friday dropped them to 2-2 heading into the finale of a five-game trip Sunday in New York.
Nowitzki and Jason Terry(notes) combined to shoot 6 of 25 against the 76ers, but got back on track against the Knicks even without Jason Kidd(notes) (personal reasons) and Erick Dampier(notes) (knee). Nowitzki and Terry scored 20 apiece to lead seven scorers in double figures in a 128-78 runaway, Dallas’ biggest win ever.
“We’ve been in a lot of close games. We’ve won a lot of close games. We haven’t had many games like this,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “So, it’s good once in a while to be able to win by a margin and be able to sit some of your guys.”
The Mavericks are 12-4 in games decided by five points or fewer, with one of those coming in Milwaukee on Nov. 16. The Bucks (18-24) overcame a 12-point halftime deficit to force overtime, but Nowitzki hit an 18-foot jumper at the buzzer - the last of his 32 points - to lift Dallas to a 115-113 win.
Nowitzki, drafted by Milwaukee and subsequently swapped for Robert Traylor, has averaged 25.7 points on 55.9 percent shooting as the Mavericks have beaten the Bucks six straight times in Dallas by an average of 13.3 points.
Josh Howard(notes) was out for that game, but the Mavericks should have their full roster Tuesday. Kidd is expected back after his brief absence, while Dampier will also likely return on the night he’ll be honored with a bobblehead.
Milwaukee returned home Saturday after splitting a home-and-home set with Toronto, and turned in its finest offensive performance of the season - including another impressive game from its newest offensive weapon.
“He’s been playing very well. He rebounded again, he’s always on the defensive glass,” coach Scott Skiles said. “He moved the ball around the floor, made good decisions and he’s a good weapon for us when he’s knocking down his shots.”
Milwaukee shot a season-high 57.6 percent, and Delfino made 9 of 11 in his third consecutive start.
Jerry Stackhouse(notes) had 14 points off the bench in his third game with the Bucks after signing for the rest of the season last week. Stackhouse spent the past five seasons in Dallas, averaging 12.2 points.
For Milwaukee to have a chance Tuesday, though, it’ll likely need Brandon Jennings(notes) and Andrew Bogut(notes) to have big games. The Bucks are 13-11 when Jennings scores at least 16 points - he had 25 in November against Dallas - and 10-2 when Bogut scores at least 19.
Bogut had 13 points in the first meeting.