Dallas Mavericks (7-3 SU, 7-3 ATS) vs. Milwaukee Bucks (5-2 SU, 5-2 ATS), 8:00 p.m. EST, Monday, November 16, 2009, Oracle Arena, Milwaukee, Wisc. TV: NBA TV
by Ryno of Predictem.com
Point Spread: Mavericks -1.5/Bucks +1.5
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Two surprise first place teams battle in Milwaukee, as the Mavericks visit the Bucks at Oracle Arena.
That’s right. The Mavericks and Bucks are in first place in their respective divisions. Maybe the Mavs aren’t too surprising, especially this early in the season, but the Bucks? Ahead of the Cavaliers and Bulls? A team that is rebuilding and its star player is currently injured?
Well, it’s true. And it’s mostly thanks to sensational rookie point guard Brandon Jennings, who scored 55 points, a Bucks rookie franchise record (it broke Lew Alcindor a.k.a. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar ‘s record), on Saturday against the Warriors. It was the most points for a rookie in 41 years. Jennings is clearly the early frontrunner for Rookie of the Year with a team-leading 25.6 points and 5.1 assists per game.
Michael Redd has a strained tendon in his left knee and has only appeared in two games this season. He will not play against the Mavs, and is expected to be back in the next week or so.
Andrew Bogut is really the only help Jennings has. The Australian center is averaging 15.9 points and 9.4 rebounds per game this season. Other than Jennings, Bogut and Redd, the Bucks have to turn to players like Hakim Warrick, Luke Ridnour, Ersan Ilyasova, Charlie Bell, Jodie Meeks, Carlos Delfino and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute.
The Mavs usually go as Dirk Nowitzki goes, and that has been the case. Dirk and the Mavs have been successful. Nowitzki leads the team in scoring with 25.8 points and is second in rebounding behind Erick Dampier with 9.1 rebounds per game. Jason Terry has been scoring a lot thus far, averaging 18.1 per game. New Maverick Shawn Marion is fitting in well with 13.6 points and 7.1 rebounds per game.
Marion is especially important now with Josh Howard being injured. Howard has a sore ankle and is out indefinitely.
Jason Kidd hasn’t been performing like he has over the past decade. Kidd is nearing the end of his career, but all of his numbers are significantly down since last year. His points are down from 9.0 to 6.2, his assists have slightly decreased from 8.7 to 8.3, and his rebounds dipped from 6.2 to 4.9. Like the last two seasons, he is still shooting over 40 percent from 3-point range, but he isn’t scoring much in any other form. Jose Juan Barea and Rodrigue Beaubois are solid substitutes at point guard, but the Mavericks need Kidd to be effective in order to make a serious run this season.
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Both of these teams like to run and get out in the open floor. The Mavericks have a lot more offensive options than the Bucks do, with Nowitzki, Marion and Terry. The Bucks may have an issue finding someone to guard both Marion and Nowitzki. Bogut isn’t quick enough to guard either one, so it will be up to Warrick, Mbah a Moute, Delfino and Ilyasova to defend Nowitzki and Howard. When Terry isn’t in the game, Kidd will have a tough time keeping up with Jennings. The Mavs will have to keep Terry in as much as possible to stay with Jennings, although Terry is not a great defender.
The last three Mavs game have all gone under. Five of their last six road games have gone under and seven of their 10 games overall. The last two Bucks games have gone over after the three before had gone under.
Ryno’s Pick: Jennings was incredible on Saturday and now he gets to face another team that likes to run. Kidd and Terry will get abused by Jennings’ quickness and athleticism. With how well Jennings is playing right now, he could easily have a 30-point effort. Other than Dampier, the Mavs don’t have much in terms of post defenders, so Bogut could have a strong game as well. If the two of them do play well, the Bucks are bound to win this game at home. The Mavs are playing their second road game in two days, so they could be tired, especially after a tight 95-90 win over the Pistons. Take the Bucks +1.5.