Mavericks (17-8) at Bucks (24-3)
Time: 7 p.m. CT
Place: Fiserv Forum, Milwaukee, Wisc.
Radio: ESPN, 103.3 FM, Univision, 1270 AM (Spanish)
About the Mavs: They will be playing their first game without Luka Doncic, who suffered a sprained right ankle Saturday against Miami. It would have been fun to watch Doncic play against Giannis Antetokounmpo, expecially since these teams only play twice a year . . . The Mavericks have not had much luck against the Bucks recently, losing both games last season by an average of 12.5 points and losing two in a row in Milwaukee . . . The Mavericks will be hoping to avoid their second two-game losing streak of the seasons. They lost at Boston and New York last month . . . Without Doncic, they will rely more on a diverse attack, with likely Jalen Brunson steping in for Doncic . . . The Mavs still rank No. 1 overall in offensive rating, but they will have to make up for more than 29 points, nine rebounds and eight assists as the 20-year-old point guard sits out . . . What happens with guards Tim Hardaway Jr. and Jalen Brunson likely will be critical to what happens with the Mavericks. Both players have the shot and the strength to help keep the Mavericks prosperous during the absence of Doncic . . . The Mavericks will have to rebound by committee to make up the difference for losing Doncic.
About the Bucks: They literally have been unbeatable since early November, winning 18 games in a row. Bear in mind that 11 of those games were at home and that their schedule gets tougher after Christmas . . . They of course are led by the Greek Freak, Giannis Antetokounmpo, the reigning MVP and exactly the sort of player that Luka Doncic would seem to size up well against, if he were playing. The Greek Freak had 29 points in just 24 minutes on Saturday in a 17-point win over Cleveland at Fiserv Forum. Giannis averages 31 points per game . . . The Bucks are built on defense, ranking No. 1 in field-goal percentage defense at 41.3-percent. However, they are not great at defending the 3-point line, giving up nearly 37 percent from beyond the arc, ranking 22nd in the league . . . Antetokounmpo is one of only two players (James Harden) who is ahead of Doncic in scoring per game . . . Former Texas Aggie Khris Middleton has been a monster, averaging 18.6 points and contributing in all areas . . . It will be interesting to see how much time Dorian Finney-Smith spends his defensive time on the court. He probably will get a heavy dose of the Greek Freak, but also might spend time on Middleton.
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