Saturday night features the Eastern Conference top seed Milwaukee Bucks (55-14) against the Dallas Mavericks (41-30). The Mavericks are also safely locked into the playoffs in the Western Conference but will be battling for better seeding.
The contest will be held on the Walt Disney Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Fla. Tipoff is slated for 8:30 pm EST and can be seen on ESPN. Milwaukee (-5.5) is the early favorite in the Saturday night showdown, according to oddsmakers.
What to Know – Milwaukee Bucks
Milwaukee has little to play for since they have already locked up the top overall seed in the East with four games to play in the regular season. The Bucks are coming off a 130-116 victory over the Miami Heat, with the win the Bucks secured that top seed in the playoffs.
Forward Giannis Antetokounmpo is averaging over 30 points per game over the four games played since returning to action. Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton each scored 33 points apiece in the victory over the Heat, the Antetokounmpo adding 12 rebounds, and four assists.
This will be just the second time the Bucks have faced the Mavericks this season. The last time these two teams saw the floor together, the Mavs outscored the Bucks 120-116 in Milwaukee on Dec. 16th.
The Bucks have gone 2-2 inside the bubble since returning to play on July 31st.
What to Know – Dallas Mavericks
The Mavs are locked into the playoffs but still have higher seeding opportunities to play for over the final four games of the season. Currently, Dallas is the seventh seed, but if they Mavs were to win out and other teams lose, the Mavs could move up a could spots and get a more favorable first-round matchup. Dallas was throttled against the Clippers on Thursday and will be looking for a confidence booster.
Dallas had a lot of hype coming into Orlando as one of the teams that no one wanted to face. Those expectations have now gone as planned, as the Mavs have gone just 1-3 in games played inside the bubble. Two of those contests ended in overtime.
The team’s leading scorers Luka Doncic (29.0 ppg) and Kristaps Porzingis (20 ppg), have continued to pace a Mav’s offense that is averaging 122 points per game over the last four contents.
Dallas has been without the services of Seth Curry over the last two games, and it is unclear if he will be available for Saturday’s matchup against the Bucks. Curry has been dealing with a leg injury and is listed as questionable.
The Pick is In
Milwaukee is one of the elite teams in the NBA and a potential NBA champion. Dallas has struggled to keep pace with these teams this season. While the Mavs can score in bunches, their defense has been very suspect.
These games are always hard to pick because it is uncertain how many minutes some the Bucks key players will play with the top seed already locked up. We will side with Dallas (+5.5) here, and the points with the belief the Mavericks have a bit more to play for and will come out ready and focused.