Final: Mavs 86, Bucks 75
Box Score | Highlights
Behind the Box Score
The Mavs had what was likely their best defensive quarter of the season tonight in the second, limiting the Bucks to just 26.3 percent shooting and 0.565 points per possession, per Mavs analytics. The offense, meanwhile, scored 1.217 PPP, outscoring the Bucks 28-12 in the frame, including a 14-0 run to end the first half.
One thing Dallas has consistently done well on the defensive end this season is draw charges. Heading into the game, the team was drawing 2.17 per game, which led the NBA. Tonight, the Mavs drew five, per team analytics. Charges can swing momentum, and that was certainly the case tonight.
This might not have been the prettiest win, but the Mavs will take it just the same. It was, appropriately, a team effort to pull out the club’s first victory of the season. Harrison Barnes and J.J. Barea had big scoring nights, Wesley Matthews and Dorian Finney-Smith were terrific and active on defense, and Andrew Bogut was a maniac on the boards. Salah Mejri brought energy off the bench. It was a total group effort and, while the shooting percentages hopefully will increase, the Mavs could use this performance as a blueprint for future success: Just play harder than your opponent in every aspect for 48 minutes.
Harrison Barnes continued his strong start to the season, finishing the game with 34 points on 13-of-26 shooting, to go along with eight rebounds, his second 30-point game as a Maverick. More encouragingly, he was more aggressive tonight than he’s been probably in any other game this season, finishing with 16 rim attacks, per Mavs stats, including one on a game-tying layup with 13.0 seconds to play. You expect to see numbers that high from point guards and other ball-handlers, but not necessarily from a forward. Barnes himself has been very vocal of how important it is for him to get into the lane and create for himself and for others, and to simply attack the rim with the intention to dunk or lay it in, rather than settling for a 10- or 15-foot jumper.
Rookie Dorian Finney-Smith got into the game in the second quarter, as Rick Carlisle searched for any and every combination that could give the Mavs a bit of a kick-start. He played terrific, pulling down rebounds and making the right passes on offense, also draining a 3-pointer for what were his first NBA points. He even started the second half in place of Justin Anderson. With Dirk Nowitzki out for at least a week, Finney-Smith and Nico Brussino both will have plenty of opportunities to earn playing time, and tonight it was the rookie from Florida who earned the minutes.
The Mavs (1-5) play the Los Angeles Lakers (3-3) on Tuesday at Staples Center at 9:30 p.m. Central.