First MVP contenders collide as Mavericks visit Bucks By Reuters

© Reuters. NBA: Dallas Mavericks at Charlotte Hornets

In his most recent games, Giannis Antetokounmpo posted his 20th career triple-double to extend the Milwaukee Bucks’ winning streak, while Luka Doncic fell one assist away from scoring his third in four games for the Dallas Mavericks. Antetokounmpo and Doncic hope to continue their success at each other’s expense on Friday when the Bucks host the Mavericks. Let’s start with Antetokounmpo, who had two stellar performances against Dallas last season, albeit in a couple of losses. He erupted for 48 points and 14 rebounds in Milwaukee’s 120-116 loss on December 16, 2019, and had 34 and 13, respectively, in the Bucks’ 136-132 overtime setback on Aug. 8. Doncic was unavailable for the first crash due to an ankle condition, however he showed up for the last one. Doncic had 36 points, 19 assists and 14 rebounds to help Dallas make a sweep in the season series. Now let’s go back to the not so distant past. Antetokounmpo amassed 22 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists in Milwaukee’s 110-101 win over the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday. The two-time NBA MVP is averaging the team’s best totals at (26.2) and rebounds (10.1) this season, while his assists (5.5) are second only to Khris Middleton (5.7). Jrue Holiday is third in points (15.2) and assists (5.0), and his performance of 21 points and five assists against the Pistons did nothing to hurt those numbers. The 30-year-old made 8-of-13 shots from the ground to finish his highest point total since erupting 24 in a fight over the Miami Heat on Dec. 29. “I knew he was really good, but every day playing with him, I realize what a good person he is, his good partner and how much better he is than he thought,” said Antetokounmpo. While the Bucks have Earning three in a row and six of seven, Doncic led the Mavericks to their fourth win in a row. Doncic had 34 points, 13 rebounds, nine assists and four blocks, a career-high, in Dallas’ 104-93 win over the Charlotte Hornets on Wednesday. Impressive numbers, to be sure, but the reigning Western Conference Player of the Week was not alone. Kristaps Porzingis made four 3s to highlight his 16-point performance in his season debut. The 7-foot star 3 was playing for the first time since he tore his right knee meniscus during the Mavericks’ playoff backhand against the Los Angeles Clippers in August. “When both guys are there at the same time, it’s a game changer for us.” , He said Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle. “They are two guys who can play on the inside and space the court on the outside.” Dallas could use the bodies on the court, considering the long list of players on the bench. It is not immediately known when Josh Richardson, Dorian Finney-Smith, Jalen Brunson, Maxi Kleber and Dwight Powell could return from health and safety protocols. “The next 10 days to two weeks will be a big challenge for us, but we have a tight group that is looking forward to it,” Carlisle said. –Field level media