Bucks forward Charlie Villanueva is having a fabulous start here. He's 6 of 7 with 13 points here at the 6:11 mark, and he basically has the Bucks up by himself, 15-7. His Bucks teammates, meanwhile, are 0 for 4.
The last time the Mavs faced the Bucks, it was the second loss of a three-game losing streak — all to Eastern Conference teams. Interestingly enough, they just avoided another one of those by defeating the Orlando Magic on Monday after losing to Boston and Detroit in the two previous games. They will return home tonight for a short two-game homestand before returning to the road for two more games out East. The Mavs have won four straight home games against the Bucks. Not the worst, but not very good The Bucks aren't likely to be heading toward the top of the draft next summer, but they are several games back from being the 8th seed in the East, which usually means you aren't very good. They are ranked tied for 26th in the league in offense, 21st on defense, 26th in rebounding and don't shoot well from the free-throw line in the few times they get there. In their last three games, they have averaged 84.7 points per game. They have lost 10 of their last 14 and have been generally putrid lately. If this one isn't over by halfway through the fourth quarter, the Mavs have nobody to blame but themselves.
Bogut hasn't been too bogus It's fun to give the Bucks flack for drafting Andrew Bogut No. 1 overall when the likes of Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Marvin Williams, Raymond Felton, Danny Granger, etc. were available. Those arguments are still true, but Bogut isn't the total bust that many would like to think he is. He still can't defend and doesn't rebound as well as his size and game dictate he should, but he's averaging 13.5 points, 8.90 rebounds, 1.7 blocks and 52.1 percent shooting from the floor.
They'll come out charging They may not be very good, but the Bucks will come out charging hard tonight. After their game tonight, they will head home for two days of rest. They will play four straight games at home over the course of a 14-day period. In other words, they have a lot of rest in their own beds coming up, so they probably won't be conserving their energy tonight. Look for them to come out of the gates with more effort than expected.
Burning question Are they trying to compete for a playoff spot or heading for the lottery and building for the future?
The Mavericks lost to an Eastern Conference opponent for the second game in a row and had too little too late to pull out a win. For a team that went 27-3 against the East last season, it has to sting a bit losing to teams they are supposed to beat. The Bucks improves to 22-5 (.814) all time against the Mavericks when they play in Milwaukee. It is the Mavs' worst franchise road record against an Eastern Conference team and is only second to the Lakers, who hold a 47-10 advantage (.824) when playing the Mavericks in Los Angeles.
The Bucks improve to 7-4 while the Mavs drop to 9-4.
University of Texas-ex Royal Ivey is on the floor. Ivey signed a one-year deal with the Bucks in the off season after spending three unproductive years with the Atlanta Hawks. With Charlie Bell being ineffective, the Bucks could look to give Ivey a few more minutes and help him build on his career high scoring and assists averages. Of course, 3.8 points and 2 assists don't require much playing time to improve. -Scooter Hendon, Hoops Nerd
Since they're both 7-feet tall and like to shoot jumpers, FSN just put up some Dirk Nowitzki-Yi Jianlian comparisons. Let's be fair here though, there is a wealth of speculation ,  (18th paragraph down), ,  that has Yi is currently anywhere from 23 to 26 years old, not 20 as he is currently listed. Dirk started out in the NBA at 19. So, before we get on the "Yi's opening numbers are better than Dirk's" bandwagon, at least recognize that the facts on starting age aren't exactly clear cut.
The Mavericks finish up a three-game road trip tonight in Milwaukee (6-4) and will look to get back on track after a sluggish loss to the Indiana Pacers last night. It will be the Mavs' second back-to-back game of the season, the first of which came Wednesday with a win over the Houston Rockets. Combined with last season, the Mavericks have won gone 17-1 on the second game of back to backs. The Mavs have taken three straight against the Bucks and have won five of six against them as well. The Bucks come in on a four-game winning streak after starting the season 2-4.
After a woeful 28-54 campaign, the Bucks made precious few changes to their roster. The Mavericks will head into the Bradley Center essentially seeing the same roster they're used to seeing, which could be a sight for sore eyes for a Mavericks team that looks a little worn out right now.
Redd still the best Milwaukee is still led by Michael Redd. Despite his defensive deficiencies, Redd is one of the best scorers in the league and the Bucks offense begins and ends in his hands. He's averaging his usual team-high in points at 24.2 per game, which is down a little from his past two seasons. However, Redd is averaging a career high in assists (4.1) and rebounds (5.9), so he's finding ways to improve his teammates and is lightening the scoring load from himself a little bit. He's playing the best ball of his career, and the team's record reflects it.
Guards are back Going into the off season, there were some question marks on who would running the point for the Bucks this season. They solved that quickly by securing Mo Williams for at least the next four years. A little later, backup Charlie Bell was pulled back to Milwaukee with a qualifying contract offer after it was believed Bell would leave to Miami. Bell was initially a little bit bitter about the Bucks pulling him back into the cold, but has since relented. Williams has played well thus far and is second on the team in scoring while Bell has played well below expectations.
Yi finally gave in After claiming he would hold out and not report to Milwaukee, rookie Yi Jianlian finally relented and reported to the Bucks. Now that all the hesitation is out of the way, the Bucks are seeing a decent player emerge. His 9.9 points and 6.1 rebounds aren't particularly thrilling, but his shot blocking has been a nice surprise for a team that is infamous for lacking in post defense. Yi could end up as a solid NBA player and has shown flashes of greatness, but still has a lot of work to do.
Mason comes back Former Oklahoma State and Waxahachie great Desmond Mason returned to Milwaukee after two seasons in New Orleans/Oklahoma City. He isn't doing much so far, but he's been known as a proficient scorer in the past and could find his rhythm a little better as the season progresses. If the Bucks can get anything close to the Desmond Mason that averaged 17.2 points in his last season with Milwaukee, they'll be much improved.
Bigs are healthy A big reason the Bucks were so awful last year was the extended absence of some of their big men. Power forward Charlie Villanueva was banged up all year and couldn't play consistent enough to have the breakout season of which he showed flashes during the beginning of the season. A physical big man with a good outside shot, Villanueva helps this team big time when he's playing well. He's averaging 16 points and 8.3 rebounds in his last three games, all Bucks wins. 2005 no. 1 overall pick Andrew Bogut also missed the final month of last season with injury. He's bounced back with a decent 2007 campaign, but hasn't improved too much since last year. The only noticeable jump in his game is his shot blocking, which was always a knock on the 7-foot center.
Bucks are rested While the Mavericks are looking dog tired, the Bucks are coming off a two-day rest, and after tonight's game, they will have another two-day rest. Look for the Bucks to push the tempo and hustle as much as they like since they have plenty of energy and have no reason to conserve it.