MILWAUKEE — Still reeling following Wednesday’s 97-90 loss in Boston to begin a three-game road trip, the Dallas Mavericks could receive a much-needed boost from an unexpected source Friday night against the Milwaukee Bucks.
Failing in an attempt to capture their first three-game winning streak of the season, the Mavericks will try to get back on track Friday night on the road. The Mavs will also attempt to replicate a 111-79 home win over the Bucks (13-10) on Nov. 18, looking for similar success at the BMO Harris Bradley Center. Meanwhile, the Mavericks are expected to activate two-way contract signee and former Baylor standout Jonathan Motley for the first time this season after seeing him dominate with the team’s NBA G League affiliate, the Texas Legends. And after Motley averaged 22.7 points, 9.8 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 1.2 steals in 12 games with the Legends, Mavs coach Rick Carlisle says he’s excited to see what the athletic big man can do at the NBA level.
“He’s done a good job in the G League. He played terrific in both summer leagues, and so this is a great opportunity for him. It’s a good opportunity for us to see him up close now that he’s had a significant amount of work in the G League, and so we’re happy to have him,” Carlisle said of Motley’s addition to the lineup after Thursday’s team practice on the campus of Marquette University.
“He’s been a terrific worker, he’s gotten better, and so this is an important opportunity for him,” the coach added on Motley’s journey to this point. “He’s in the mix, for sure. He played well in preseason, had a great nose for the ball and good hands around the basket. And the Legends basically run our stuff, so he’s got a pretty good familiarity with what we’re doing offensively. It’s a good opportunity for him.”
Going untaken in June’s NBA Draft after suffering a torn meniscus to conclude his final collegiate campaign, the 6-foot-10 Motley showed the skills that made him an attractive prospect for the Dallas front office during his time in the G League. He now hopes to continue showing that his prior injury is behind him after averaging 17.3 points, 9.9 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.1 blocks per game during his junior season to earn consensus All-American second-team honors and the 2017 Karl Malone Power Forward of the Year Award.
This season marks the first in which the league has implemented two-way contracts, allowing teams to have up to two players who will spend the bulk of the year in the G League and not more than 45 days with their NBA squad. Two-way players are also paid a corresponding daily amount based on the number of days they play in each league. And after joining the team Thursday morning for practice in Milwaukee to begin his 45-day limit, Motley says he’s more than ready to get to work.
“I hope to show a lot of different things — being able to rebound outside my area, being able to pass, finish at a high rate and just being able to make plays,” Motley explained. “I worked on making sure I get my jump shot more consistent and just rebounding. You know, you always have got to work on your strengths, ’cause that’s the thing they want me to do the most.
“It’s all a part of the process,” he added after boarding a 6 a.m. flight to join the team following a 24-point, 12-rebound performance for the Legends during a 110-107 home loss to Canton on Wednesday. “I just came and wished I could help. Things happened the way that they happened, so I went down (to the G League) and showed what I could do there. I came up to show these guys what I’ve been working on and how I can help the team.”
Note: The Mavericks will now continue their three-game road trip Friday in Milwaukee during a rematch against the Bucks. Dallas leads the season series 1-0 after a 111-79 home win on Nov. 18. The game will tip off at 7 p.m. CT, airing locally on Fox Sports Southwest and 103.3 FM ESPN. The game will also air in Spanish on KFLC AM 1270.
The Mavs return to their home floor next Tuesday night at American Airlines Center against the San Antonio Spurs. San Antonio leads the season series 2-0. That game will tip off at 7:30 p.m. CT, airing locally on Fox Sports Southwest and 103.3 FM ESPN. The game will also air in Spanish on KFLC AM 1270. Tickets are still available and can be purchased by visiting Mavs.com, or by calling (214) 747-MAVS.
Nerlens Noel (left thumb injury) — questionable
Dorian Finney-Smith (left knee quadriceps tendinitis) — out
Seth Curry (stress reaction, left tibia) — out
Josh McRoberts (lower extremity injury) — out