The Dallas Mavericks let one slip away on Dec. 9 as the Milwaukee Bucks picked up a 106-105 win on Friday night. Superstar Luka Doncic had a 33-point double-double, but the Mavericks' poor free throw shooting came back to bite them. Dallas made just ten of 24 from the foul line as the Bucks stole a game in Dallas to finish off a season series sweep.
Doncic got the upper hand in the battle of MVP candidates. Giannis Antetokounmpo finished with 28 points, ten rebounds, three assists, and one steal, but he fouled out with just under three minutes remaining in the contest. Dallas could not take advantage as the Bucks snapped their three-game winning streak.
What can Mavericks fans take away from the wild loss? Here are three things from Friday’s game, including a must-see Luka Doncic dunk.
Takeaway from Dallas Mavericks loss to Bucks: 3. Defense
The Mavs reached the conference finals last season on the back of their defense. They transformed into a top-ten team in defensive rating in the first year under head coach Jason Kidd, and Dallas was even better in the playoffs. They held the Jazz to 100 or fewer points in four of the six games before forcing the Suns into their three-lowest scoring games of the season in the second round.
The Mavs' defense has been up and down to start this year, but it was again on Friday night. They held the Bucks to just 20 points in the second quarter and 21 in the third, but Milwaukee scored 32-plus in the first and fourth. Dallas shut down the Bucks' offense for two quarters, but it came alive in the fourth to steal the win.
The Dallas Mavericks are just starting to find their footing on the defensive end of the floor, and they are one of the most dangerous teams in the NBA when they are locked in. Will they be a top-ten team again? Can they improve further? The Mavs' defense is certainly something to watch moving forward.